The month of October is known for many things in different parts of the world. In the Roman Catholic tradition worldwide, October is known for the Holy Rosary. October is also known for being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the International Walk to School Month and the World Blindness Awareness Month. In the UK, October is known for Black History Month. In the US, October is popularly known for National Arts and Humanities Month and, believe me or not, October is famous for being the National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Here at home, in Namibia, October, is amongst others, known for the National ICT Summit Month.
The theme for the third National ICT Summit, “Digital Transformation towards Economic Growth and Prosperity” is without doubt a laudable theme that speaks directly to the deliverables and commitment to the mandate of the ministry.
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays the lead role in setting the national agenda for ICT, and the entire value chain, ranging from the regulator to the operators, service providers, retailers of ICT products and services, consumers, the media, the public, private and civil society organizations, international organisations, the diplomatic community and ultimately e-Government service of the Republic of Namibia must all be aligned to one common objective and nobody will have space to act holier than thou.
We are all affected by the tough economic conditions and Fitch has become a topic of discussion in every sector of the economy. Hence the value chain of ICT needs to sparingly and jealously think carefully about every cent and dollar and how best to invest it to benefit the broader Namibian people out there, especially those located in the outskirts and often neglected areas of the country that are regarded as not economically viable.
I will be brutal in insisting that the value chain of the ICT sector operates as one united force led by the famous brand promise of Liverpool: “You will never walk alone!” This will, without a doubt, require a robust approach for the implementation of ICT infrastructure development, commitment and a deliberate strategy of sharing scarce and expensive resources among ICT players, ultimately for the benefit of all Namibians.
We need to have a common strategy for our collective and individual digital business to set Namibia up for success for the ever-increasing dynamics of emerging ICT markets.
And it is still my objective to ensure that the existing 70 percent coverage increases to 100 percent. By so doing, the breakthrough of this milestone will give birth to a culture of inclusivity, ensuring that “nobody must feel left out of the Namibian house” of ICT, as the President of this beautiful Republic affectionately advocates.
As head of this ministry, I commit to oversee the effective implementation of the Communications Legislation and Regulation to address accessibility, affordability and the quality of Information Communication Technology, with the aim of creating a knowledge-based society.
It is further expected that the ministry will continue to strengthen accessibility of public information by the media in order to strengthen democracy and good governance; and consolidate government information systems to ensure cohesive and integrated media communications from all government offices, ministries and agencies.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan and the ICT objectives will, without a doubt, propel Namibia to greater prosperity only if we as an ICT sector invest our human and financial resources towards one common objective. We need to have a common strategy for our collective and individual digital business to set Namibia up for success for the ever-increasing dynamics of emerging ICT markets.
Our unique industry plays a pivotal role in Namibia, in the SADC region, in Africa, and the world, and it goes without saying that ICT can produce a tail of two sides. A tail of joy to inform, educate and connect people with one another, to bring the poor and disadvantaged communities in the mainstream of the telecommunications superhighway.
The opposite is equally true that ICT can also create anguish, if applied and used for the wrong reasons, for instance cybercrime. And it is probably against this background that a superpower like the US deliberately decided to use the month of October to intensify awareness of cyber security to caution people against unscrupulous elements of the society who hack websites, who breach security code and operate and transact on your online banking account, stealing your hard earned money, your investments and resources for their own ambitions.
And we must always be on high alert, especially for us, the consumers of ICT services, to avoid operating on your bank accounts at coffee shops, restaurants and hospitality establishments where the access of Wi-Fi is almost open for all to access.
The optimal utilisation and application of scarce ICT resources and investments, especially during these tough economic times, will land breakthrough outcomes guided by digital transformation towards economic growth and prosperity, and this is ultimately the breakthrough space where we want to see our ICT sector should be.
We must as key players of this people-centric ICT sector of our economy constantly reach out to all corners of Namibia, to deliberately include the Himba and San communities in the mainstream of ICT through various media channels such as mobile phones, internet access, and radio and television connectivity.
As the political head of the ministry I hardly sleep and ICT keeps robbing me, for a while now, from my prescribed eight hours of sleep. I dream ICT, I have visualised my ICT dream into the ICT City.
I have engaged experts and architects to pencil the ICT dream into three-dimensional plans where ICT will be the aorta from where most, if not all services will be dispensed. The ICT City will be home to those who would like to think outside the box – it will house local and international ICT giants and the images of the ICT City will reverberate across the SADC region, throughout Africa and globally.
• This is an edited excerpt of the speech by the Minster of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, during the opening of the 3rd National ICT Summit in Windhoek on 10 October.