WINDHOEK – Nothing short of a relentless pursuit of a paradigm shift to technology will ensure Namibia’s sustained transition into a digital economy.
This, according to the Head of Economics and Research at the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) Helene Vosloo, needs to involve all stakeholders, especially incorporating government ministries to adopt more concepts involving ‘e-commerce’ to cement the foundations of such a change.
CRAN outlined the need to incorporate new methods that have the potential of empowering Namibians, at Namibia’s 4th ICT Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum meeting held last week.
Vosloo argued that more countries are abandoning what has been the norm and are moving toward digital economies which comprise of information communciation technologies (ICTs) that allow new opportunities for both business and government.
“Namibia’s ICT sector contributed only 2.9 pecrnt to the Gross Demographic Product (GDP) in both 2007 and 2008. In contrast, in countries such as Mauritius it contributed 6.7 percent, while in neighbouring South Africa it contributed 10 percen to their GDP,” said Vosloo.
“The shift (from old methods to ICT-related techniques) has a variety of advantages that can range from job provision as well innovation in that we can breed a culture of encouraging new inventions and e-commerce,” she said.
Meanwhile, current use of ICT’s in Namibia is mainly observed in social networking sites and occassional web searches, suggesting that research and e-commerce could play a bigger role.
She gave an example of how much could be saved by incorporatiing e-methods in cultivating the economy and saving money.
“I would want to see an economist carrying out a study on how much is lost by a company when an individual goes to apply for a passport or ID at the home affairs office: waiting 3 hours in a line not only wastes that employee’s time, but that employee is still on the clock at the respective organisation, which translates into income. In contrast, if there was a way of doing it via a website, it would surely cut down on time constraints and prove a more viable option as you could do it from home, the office or anywhere there is access to the internet and a computer,” she reasoned.
Nevertheless, the question to be asked is the need for training of those relevant officials to be able to interpret the data that they would receive from applicants and translate it into application forms and begin the process thereafter.
“This is why we also need to collaborate with tertiary institutions to be able to have a way of training the workforce from an early age and establish criteria for change,” she added.
A Global Competitiveness Report ranked Namibia 99th out of a possible 142 countries. This report measures the speed at which a country adopts existing technologies, enhancing productivity of industries with specific emphasis on its capacity to fully utilise ICT for innovation.
Furthermore, a Global Information Technology Report ranked Namibia 105th out of 142 countries.