Telecom Namibia chief executive officer Stanley Shanapoinda says the parastatal plans to invest more than N$2,3 billion in the next five years to modernise our national fixed and mobile network, starting from the national backbone to the core network and the access technologies.
The World Bank Group, in a report titled Creating Markets in Nambia – Creating Resilient and Inclusive Markets, stated that the cost of internet data services was high. The Group also pointed out that mobile data adoption at 36 per cent was behind regional peers at 52 per cent.
Fibre uptake, the World Bank Group also said, was slow with 2,5 subscriptions per 100 people, while digital adoption rates are much lower than in peer countries. According to the World Bank Group, this challenges private businesses to access stable and reliable electricity.
The World Bank said Namibia needs to promote and invest in digital infrastructure to enable digital transformation, which would lead to adopting digital processes.
The Bank suggested that the digital transformation efforts could address inefficiencies in the logistics and trade sector by accelerating the implementation and scaling of digital systems along trade corridors to enable real-time cargo monitoring.
In doing so, the Bank said, Namibia would, in turn, leverage the potential for the digital transformation of the economy.
Shanapinda said Telecom Namibia couldn’t agree more with the World Bank Group that digital transformation will bring about major economic developments.
He said Telecom adopted network modernisation and digital infrastructure investment as a key strategic objective in our current Integrated Strategic Business and Funding Plans and Beyond (ISBP 2023).
“Under our ‘ISBP 2023&Beyond’ plan, we embark on a digital transformation journey to help enable Namibia’s Vision 2030, 4IR, NDP 5, HPPII national goals,” he said.
According to Shanapinda, the first investment of about US$5 million was the co-landing of the Google Equiano submarine cable in partnership with the private company Paratus, also allowing for the sharing of infrastructure as envisaged under HPPII.
The Equiano cable landed in Swakopmund on 1 July 2022 and will provide us with the projected capacity of 4Tbps (4,000Gbps).
“This is the second submarine cable we landed, the first one being the West Africa Cable System (WACS) that landed in February 2011, eleven years earlier. These cables address Namibia’s international connectivity needs and gear Namibia towards 4IR, a revolution that intense data-driven needs will drive. We are positioning Namibia as a regional ICT hub for landlocked African countries such as Botswana (via Buitepos), Zambia (via Ngoma and Sesheke), Malawi, and the DRC. This is in line with our projected capacity demands to enable digital transformation in sectors such as logistics and trade,” he said.
Shanapinda said the economy saw significant benefits with the landing of WACS, and we expect the same trends with the landing of the Equiano cable.
WACS, he added, enabled Internet content utilisation growth at an average of 50 per cent per annum, leading to revenue growth that followed at an average of 11 per cent.
“The next part of our Capex plan is to accelerate the roll out of fibre to pass and connect thousands of homes, thereby improving the coverage of our existing 10,676 km (65.2% of the national coverage) national fibre backbone. We aim to connect more homes and businesses with packages that start at 4Mbps and up to 50Mbps.
“The packages can even go up to 300 Mbps. In December 2021, we automatically upgraded our customers with double the capacity at no extra cost. To date, we have invested over N$148 million in deploying fibre. These efforts continue to accelerate the uptake of fibre broadband solutions and help to improve digital adoption rates,” he said.
Shanapinda also said to improve mobile data adoption rates via Telecom’s subsidiary Powercom, they deployed new and upgraded 3G and 4G tn mobile sites in rural and urban areas.
The sites include Groot Aub, Omeya Golf Estate, Bergquell, Okahandja, Hosea Kutako Airport, Kappsfarm, Unam Neudam Campus, Luipersdvallei, Veddersdal, Elizabeth Bay, Stampriet (Roots), Otjiwarongo, Otjiwarongo New Hospital, Uukwangula, Eenhana NHE, Eenhana Industrial Onawa, UNAM HP, UNAM Engineering Ekuku WT, Ehenye WT, Mahohoma, Warmquelle, Sesfontein Gunkwe, Gobabis TN, Gmunder Lodge, Onkani Sauyemwa Water Tower, Dama Water Tower, Kupferquelle, Onamishu, Werda Gate, Otjokowares Otjitjekwa, Repeater 1807 and Grootfontein (Omulunga).
“Under PowerCom as the neutral operator, we continue to share passive infrastructure fairly and equally and with no favour, to all our competitors, as per CRANs infrastructure sharing regulations and HPPII,” Shanapinda said.
To excite customers, Shanapoinda said, Telecom offers tn mobile customers unlimited data packages, with reduced pricing and no restrictions on social media services such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or TikTok. This we do via our various Jiva packages. For example, with our 31-Day Jiva package, customers can get 50Gb of data for only N$185.00. This translates to N$3,70 per Gig or 0.25USD.
“We are excited that under the national 5G strategy CRAN recently announced, our sites will be 5G-ready, using the latest standards, to enable real-time cargo monitoring with ubiquitous IoT connectivity.
“This connectivity and our digitalisation investments can enable NamRA’s digitalisation processes, which will, in turn, help to meet the goal of eliminating border delays under the advanced ruling programme. NamRA recently announced this goal,” he said.