Windhoek — Government aims to achieve 95 percent broadband coverage by 2024, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Engel Nawatiseb, told Parliament recently. Nawatiseb made this declaration while tabling the Broadband Policy and its Implementation Action Plan in the National Assembly.
He added that the government also aims at 100 percent broadband connections and usage to all primary and secondary schools in the country to enable e-learning by 2024.
Similarly, he said the government also intends to have 90 percent broadband connection and usage to 70 percent of the health facilities in the country to ensure e-health by 2024.
"It gives me great pleasure to table rapid technological evolutions that impact the day-to-day lives of most global citizens. Namibian citizens are no exception.
"Nations are digitalising their services to ease the way of service delivery to the citizens. This requires high-speed internet access," he said.
He said the role of broadband services, as an enabler of economic and social development in countries, is widely recognised in various studies and in documents such as the report of the United Nations Broadband Commission.
According to him, the fifth annual edition of the Alliance for Affordable Internet Report of 2018 indicates that affordable internet to low- and middle-income countries is where 1 Gigabyte of mobile broadband data is priced at two percent or less of average monthly income.
"High-speed internet access or broadband is critical to economic opportunities, job creation, education, and civic engagement. But there are too many parts of this country where broadband is unavailable in both urban and rural areas," he stressed.
Nawatiseb said the broadband ecosystem is deemed to stimulate interaction among role players to provide incentives for further innovation and investment in broadband.
Thus he said in 2014, the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in its annual report recommended that countries should aim at launching national broadband plans, monitor, review and update Information and Communication Technology (ICT) regulations and utilise the Universal Access Services Funds to close the digital divide.
In 2015, the deputy minister said a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) ministers' responsible for ICT directed member states to develop their National Broadband Strategies and Policies.
To this, he said the government responded to the Broadband Commission's recommendations and the Sadc ministers' directives by securing technical assistance from the International Telecommunication Union to develop the Broadband Policy and its Implementation Action Plan (IAP).
"The policy and its IAP have been developed through stakeholders' consultative workshops and they are aligned to the structure of Public Policy Document, as adopted by Cabinet," Nawatiseb told lawmakers.
He said the National Planning Commission has done quality assurance of the two documents, which were eventually approved by Cabinet.
Highlighting key components of the broadband policy, Nawatiseb said the policy spans over 2019-2029, while its IAP is from 2019-2024.
"The policy defines broadband as a high-speed connection to the internet and sets a minimum download speed of 2Mbps," he said, adding that it also provides a framework for a holistic development of broadband in the country, which is universally available and affordable; and which will ensure the transformation of Namibia into a digital economy.
The deputy minister said this policy is aligned with Namibia's national development documents such as Vision 2030, Harambee Prosperity Plan and the Fifth National Development Plan.
To implement universal broadband in the country, four policy objectives will be pursued to achieve the broadband targets, through its strategies and activities, Nawatiseb said.
These objectives, he said, are to ensure universal access to broadband infrastructure and services; promote the development of content, applications and innovation; support efforts aimed at capacity building, create awareness and reduce the digital divide and provide an enabling environment for broadband deployment.