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Many Schools, Health Care Have No Internet Access

By:Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
The dream to roll out e-learning and e-health countrywide might be illusive for Namibia as a large number of schools and healthcare centres are not connected to the internet.
The total number of schools that have no access to the internet in the country is 1 300 as some are not even connected to the national power grid, according to a SWOT analysis done by the eight-member Task Force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) based on secondary data sources and stakeholder engagements.
After the 4IR Country Readiness Assessment, the task force made recommendations for a change in teaching methods, delivery modes, content, teacher training, and school infrastructure to teach a 4IR-ready workforce.
“Consideration should also be given to making ICT skills as promotional subjects whilst introducing coding in primary school,” the team advised.
The team explained that education is a central and prerequisite ingredient for the 4IR.
The assessment further shows that the style of teaching needs to change, with the quality of vocational training considered below average.
“Therefore, an education reform across all layers from basic education to tertiary education and lifelong learning to provide for the future of work and the 4IR is necessary,” the team said.
The automation and adoption of advanced digital technologies in all parts of society and the economy are already creating pressures to develop educational offerings in complex fields such as artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, biotechnology, new materials and autonomous vehicles, they stated.
The team added that 4IR technologies are also changing the way education and teaching are imparted.
The team observed that only 56% of the total population has access to electricity, with vast differences in urban and rural electrification, with about two-thirds of the rural population lacking access to electricity.
The SWOT analysis has also revealed that many healthcare facilities are not connected to the internet and electricity.
They have also found that there is a low budget allocation for ICT projects and infrastructure..
The 4IR Task Force noted that the country’s digital divide particularly affects women – only 24% of women are using the internet versus 35% of men.
Digital access in remote and poorer areas, as well as by informal enterprises, is also a challenge, while e-commerce in the country is rated quite low.
“This challenge raises questions about the importance of considering inclusion as central to the process of digital transformation and the subsequent move towards the 4IR,” the team found.
The 4IR Task Force found that about a third of the responding organisations in Namibia tend to be risk-averse in embracing disruptive ideas while another third does embrace risky or disruptive ideas ‘to some extent’.
“While risk-aversion is an advantageous strategy that provides stability, the 4IR requires the institutional capability to embrace disruptive change while maintaining transparency and efficiency,” the team said.
They have also found that about one-third of respondents from industry and a quarter from other organisations either do not consider the adoption of new technologies in decision-making or make ad-hoc decisions.
Another third of all respondents seem to have in place a strategic approach to new technologies. At least 34% of industry respondents and 39% of non-industry organisations reported having a dedicated strategy to leverage new technologies.
Only 7% of respondents in the industry and 11% of respondents outside the industry report having a dedicated R&D department informing their investment decisions about new technologies.

Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus

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