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Provide equal ICT opportunities to all- Simataa

Telecommunication mast TV antennas with blue sky in the morning

By: Rodney Pienaar

Minister of Information, Stanley Simataa has said that insufficient telecommunication backhaul infrastructure in remote areas is a significant challenge to providing equal opportunities to all citizens.

 He challenged ICT providers to provide services to hitherto underserviced parts of the country.

He said this will be achieved without having to construct larger and costly backbone network infrastructure.

However, the challenge is the extremely high unit cost of rolling out infrastructure.

“Such cost grossly inhibits the affordability of services provided. Above all it leads to unwarranted duplication of infrastructure which in turn negates the set policy of sharing infrastructure. Sharing existing infrastructure yields noteworthy reduction in the requisite start-up capital of ICT operators, both new and established as well,” said Simataa.

Simataa reiterated that the prevailing challenge of limited internet access points in public facilities in rural areas needs to be addressed.

“The significant reduction in the unit cost of rolling out infrastructure should lead to a concomitant decrease in the cost of providing services. ICT and backhaul providers must smartly work together to provide internet services to our people. This will in turn bring our country closer to achieving the set target of 80 percent of population to be covered by 2020 in terms of broadband connectivity.”

“Conversely relatively low ICT literacy levels which painfully inhibit the desired uptake of power and agility of internet in the hands for our people will certainly yield the desired dividends of digital economy. I Namibian entrepreneurs to take full advantage of today’s developments to sharpen our citizen’s appetite for electronic services,” he said.

Simataa also said that lack of electricity is undeniably the albatross that stifles sectoral initiative to ensure equitable provision of ICT infrastructure in rural areas.

“We live in challenges yet exciting times. Vibrant economies are those that harness the emerging benefits of the digital economy. As such we need to keep pace with digital developments and accordingly tweak our digital offerings. This is only possible where we provide ubiquitous connectivity and where we develop the critical mass of human capital needed to manage and service digital operations,” said the minister.

Rodney Pienaar

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