Although his was not an easy life journey, 34-year-old Licky Richard Erastus defied all odds and today strives to make a contribution to the country’s development through his expertise in telecommunications.
Like most people, Erastus’ childhood was no walk in the park, as he endured many hardships to get where he is today.
Looking back at his primary school years, when he had to walk barefoot to school every day, the Outjo-born man does not regret his past for a moment and believes it has shaped him into the man he is today.
“It’s important for one to start at the bottom in order to understand people better when you are in a managerial position,” says the now head of ICT in the Namibian Police Force (Nampol), as he looks back on the many hardships he endured through the years.
His father died when he was in Grade 11 and that left his mother with the responsibility of assuring that his needs were met. “I was raised by my mom, who at the time did not have a rewarding job,” said Erastus, whose childhood dream was to become a medical doctor.
That dream changed when he joined the telecommunications industry, thanks to a school bursary he landed, partly because of his impressive school performance.
“My dream of becoming a medical doctor faded away with the Telecom bursary, but at least working at Telecom I could assist my mom and that is where I developed a love for telecommunications,” he says.
He believes that as the world is changing rapidly and technology drives most of the developments, it is important to have technically skilled Namibians.
“In the call of pulling together, so that no Namibian should be left out, it is critical to have a digital society with well-trained and technologically equipped citizens,” he remarked.
Erastus, whose resumé speaks volumes about his passion for telecommunications, recently graduated with a Master’s of Informatics degree, for which he received the Best Performance Award, Best Merit Award and the Prof Neon Award, which is the highest award offered to the best science and technology student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust).
Other than heading the ICT division of the Namibian police Erastus is also a doctoral informatics student at Nust. In his day job he is responsible for the planning, development and implementation of the strategic IT systems and its modules for the force, including the E-policing platforms.
“This requires high capacity, creativity and innovation. Moreover, being the head of ICT in the public sector has offered me that rare opportunity and exposure to the global ICT profession,” Erastus noted.
In addition, he is a certified data protection officer for Interpol in Namibia, a certified Interpol database training officer for Interpol here and is a member of Interpol Cybercrime expert group.
“At present I’m the only member from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, which in itself speaks volumes about our country competing with developed first world countries in its pursuit to the development of human resources, skills transfer and capacity building,” he said.
From his narrative it is obvious that Erastus is inspired by ICT developments in societies. “The Namibian e-Government framework mentions the access and provision of 24/7 services to all Namibians. This means ICT has power to improve service delivery,” he added.
Considering the huge responsibility weighing on him one could not but ask how he manages his time, considering that he is also a family man. “It’s not easy,” he says, “but personal dedication, having encouraging mentors, a positive attitude and hard work has helped,” Erastus said.
He also admits that he would not have achieved some of the key milestones in his life had it not been for his supportive wife. “The need for strong support structures in our daily lives cannot be over-emphasised,” he adds.
And what does he do when he is not working or studying? “Do I really have free time?” he says, laughing out loud. “I used to be a soccer player, so when I’m free I love to watch soccer and I’m an avid Arsenal supporter.”