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City of Windhoek mum on free wi-fi funders

If the words by City of Windhoek acting boss, Reckliff Kandjiriomuini are anything to go by, the municipality will be bristling with free Wi-Fi in 12 months’ time by the authorities are still mum on who is funding this project.
Speaking on the Early Morning Scoop, Kandjiriomuini said Namibia can rest assured that the tax-payer will not cough up the bill which is expected to be to the tune of millions.
The city of Windhoek continues to chase its smart-city dream, behind countries like Rwanda that have long created momentum towards turning Kigali into a tech-hub driven by smart technologies.
The acting CEO also said that they are not rolling out fifth-generation internet, which is already being worked on in South Africa and in Britain, they have roped in Huawei to help in this.
This is despite reports that the British are also investigating Huawei’s links to the Chinese Communist Party and allegations of spying for the state.
But is the city working with the Chinese?
“Ok, there are two things that we need to split here. The optic fibre monetization project that you are talking about that will bring about Wi-Fi has nothing to do with 5G. There are certain companies creating misconception. They are using the public to create a bad image but that is just what it is, its bad image it’s a lie. We have partnered with anyone,” he said.
He said 5G is being covered at a regulatory level and will come by way of MTC, Telecom and the City as well.
Fair play
But the wadding of the City into telecommunications and the free-Wi-Fi project has left heads scratching.
What does this mean to the business future of Paratus, MTC and Telecom whose business has also hinged on selling data?
“Prior to the City of Windhoek coming up with this initiative, as we speak right now, do we have free Wi-Fi? Yes or no? Answer so that you record yourself. No. Telecom has been there, MTC has been there. Paratus has been there. You don’t have free Wi-Fi. Why don’t they offer these services? The council of the City is responsible for the well-being of the residents and information has become a basic need,” he said.
If the city is to roll out 300 access points, this would cost in the range of N$7 million while rolling out the entire project including fibre, expanding it to homes for broadband connectivity this would run into billions of dollars.
“The business plan is being taken care of by consulting teams. For the immediate quick wins, we are looking at, for 300 access points, at that kind of value. We are still doing the costing,” he said.
But former lawmaker and member of the parliamentary standing committee on ICT, Steve Bezuidenhout is sceptical of this project, from the perspective of the business model and fair-play.
“Communication is not a monopoly market but one for innovation and the more companies become exclusive entities and keep everyone out, it is not good for the communication sector. If your responsibility is to carter for certain services why do you want to get into another person’s domain? Fulfil your responsibility before you can start expanding. Our market is so small. CRAN as a regulator has to be very careful. The city of Windhoek for me is responsible for my electricity and water,” he said.

Julia Heita

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