Namibia to Host ICT Conference

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Gobabis The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will host a national conference on the state of Information, Communication and Technology at the beginning of next month. This was revealed on Tuesday by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, when she officially launched a website and opened a workshop at the Ounongo Technology Centre (OTC) at Gobabis in the Omaheke Region. Ndaitwah said the national conference would be hosted under the theme “ICT for Poverty-Reduction and Sustainable Development” and would discuss the ICT status in the country and plot the way forward to ensure that Namibia gets properly on board and reaps the benefits offered by the information society. The minister urged participants at the OTC workshop to come up with proposals on rural access, poverty-reduction, addressing illiteracy and the role of women and youth in ICT, and to feed the national conference with the information. She said the participants must ensure that their concerns were included in the final recommendations of the planned conference. “Your concerns will enrich the development of the new ICT Policy”. Ndaitwah said it was true that the lack of infrastructure, such as electricity and telephone connections, posed obstacles in some areas, but added that people should be innovative and use solar power and satellites to ensure access. “We cannot talk about poverty-reduction and addressing illiteracy if we are not willing to use our abundant sunshine to ensure electricity-generation to keep ICT equipment running.” The minister pledged government commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-orientated information society and recognition that ICT can contribute to the eradication of poverty and attain the goals and objectives of the Millennium Development Goals. At the same occasion, the director of Education, Theo Kamupingene, paid tribute to the OTC and said the organization had made great advances in their quest to make it possible for people in Omaheke to access information and to communicate effectively through electronic mail. He said the OTC, which was launched in 2004, had already established four mini sub-centres in four constituencies in the region and had secured the support of key development partners such as the National Assembly, which has donated twenty computers. Giving a brief history on ICT Policy in Namibia, Ndaitwah said the development of the policy started with the hosting of two national information and communication initiative workshops in 1998 and 1999. After several more national consultations and interviews, the policy was completed, steered through Cabinet and shared with the National Assembly in 2002. She added that the policy provided for certain critical success factors and high-priority actions to grow ICT in Namibia. The minister admitted, however, that after three years after the adoption of the ICT policy, not much progress had been made and there was need for a national machinery to oversee the implementation of the policy. She said it was only last year that Cabinet pronounced itself on the implementation of the ICT policy for Namibia and gave the responsibility to her ministry.