By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK Prime Minister Nahas Angula has warned companies there will be no room for collusion or underhand dealing at the expense of consumers in the telecommunications sector. He says that government on the other hand will encourage constructive and healthy competition on all fronts in the interest of making telecommunications accessible to all Namibians. “We expect lower prices, improved services and packages for consumers, increased access for the rural poor and more investment in assisting the government in the fight against hunger and poverty.” Angula painted a broad picture of government telecommunications policy at the launch of MTC’s new 3G Broadband Service on Wednesday. He said Portugal Telecom’s recent acquisition of a 34% stake in MTC was a major event on the Namibian telecommunications calendar worth noting. According to Angula, the government sees the investment as a major vote of confidence in its efforts at good governance and promotion of public-private partnerships. This event needed celebration as an achievement for the local telecoms sector, but the government also wished to underline that the country’s laws remained investor-friendly. He promised that the government would continue to improve everything it does in order to protect existing foreign investments, and attract new ones from all corners of the world. “The message must be that the returns are good when investing in the Namibian telecoms industry and your investment will always be protected. It is a principle that is inscribed in our national law, the constitution, and one that we will always swear to uphold,” Angula vowed. The government believes in freedom of choice as a fundamental right, which is why the issuing of a second cellular phone operating licence to the PowerCom consortium is an important development. The government believes that competition augurs well for the future of the Namibian economy, because its aim should be offering choice and driving down prices for all consumers. Improved cost of access to telecommunications services would make all industries competitive, thus stimulating the economy further. While praising MTC for what he called the “remarkable” strides it has made over the past 11 years in establishing a world-class network, the government felt it needed a partner to walk the next mile to greater heights. “For Namibia to continue to improve its rankings in terms of penetration of mobile telephony from the present 95% to over 100%, two licensed mobile phone operators can do a better job together,” he felt. He urged the two operators to find common ground to avoid duplication of infrastructure and to avoid undue waste of scarce resources. Angula said the government is making good progress towards promulgating the revised Telecommunications Bill in the new year. Consultations with all key stakeholders had progressed well, and the government is confident the Bill will return to parliament for promulgation in 2007. “It is a Bill that forms the bedrock for an improved, robust and future-proof telecommunications sector in Namibia and the region,” he said. After promulgation of the act, the government expects the Namibia Communications Authority to be a fully empowered authority, better-defined roles for all players in the sector and improved guarantees for protection of human rights.
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