Windhoek — Although the notion of e-governance, which is the application of information communication technology for delivering government services, has been embraced, the implementation thereof must be accelerated, Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba said yesterday.
E-governance also includes the exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems and services between government to citizens, government to businesses, government to government and government to employees as well as administrative processes and interactions within the entire government framework.
"Although this needs to be accelerated, the provision of government services to our citizens has been made efficient, virtual and transparent. With the timely provision of services to the citizens, particularly civil documentation and other government activities, e.g. e-birth certificate, e-ID, e-passport, marriage certificates and death certificates, we have been able to inculcate and entrench a new culture of efficiency, transparency and accountability," said Mbumba in a speech read on his behalf by minister of ICT, Stanley Simataa, at the opening of the 6th National ICT Summit in Windhoek yesterday.
This year's summit takes place under the theme 'Accelerating digital transformation'.
Mbumba noted that since the promulgation of the Access to Information Act in 2016, which aims to improve access to information, government has been working towards the full implementation of an e-governance policy, as outlined in the Harambee Prosperity Plan under the pillar of ICT infrastructure development.
"Our overall objective is to remove impediments for businesses to provide immediate information and to enable digital communication via e-business platforms. This will certainly improve our competitiveness locally and globally, thereby improving the ease of doing business. Moreover, this will foster an investment-friendly environment for both local and international investors," said Mbumba. He added that as Namibia positions itself to fully participate in the global technology arena, appropriate measures must be taken to guarantee the security and integrity of the country's digital systems.
This, said the VP, will be achieved by fostering collaborative efforts between public and private sector institutions and industry as well as academic institutions.
Mbumba emphasised, "Together we must devise innovative ways to enhance and sustain the security of our networks and systems," adding that this will ensure that the integrity, confidentiality and availability of information is not compromised.
"The competitiveness of our nation will only be sustained if we actively harness the full potential of our youth. Our youth are the catalysts of our nation's digital transformation efforts. Africa, as well as other continents, continue to experience a bulging young population. Given this reality, it is imperative that concerted efforts be made to unleash the innovative potential of our youth. Youth empowerment initiatives in the ICT sector should fully optimise the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution. I therefore implore all relevant institutions in the public and private sectors to act in unison and in so doing be the catalysts for innovations," Mbumba said.
In addition, he stated that the importance of any infrastructure in any economy cannot be over-emphasised, particularly because it acts as an important catalyst for accelerated and sustained economic growth and the alleviation of poverty.
Mbumba noted that a few years ago, overcoming latency and expensive internet bandwidth over satellite was a major connectivity problem in view of becoming part of the information and knowledge society.
He quoted a recent Gallup survey that states: 'Internet access is clearly a function of economic development; as recent trends demonstrate, demand for electronics and online services grows as the living standards rise along with disposable income levels.'
He added that internet connectivity is closely associated with economic output measured as gross regional product per capita, with a correlation of .89. It is also closely correlated with total factor productivity (.87), the UN Human Development Index (.84), and the Global Competitiveness Index (.84) - being various measures of the level and extent of economic development. "Namibia therefore cannot afford to be left behind. It is against this background that Namibia invested in the WACS (West Africa Cable System) submarine cable, being an ultra-high capacity fibre-optic submarine cable system which links southern Africa, the rest of Africa and Europe."
He concluded that access to the international internet backbone via the submarine cable landing station has started to change the way Africans work, communicate and connect with others while enabling the youth to further harness the power of the internet with all its endless possibilities.