Communications Bill Considered

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By Catherine Sasman

WINDHOEK

Stakeholders in the telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services are meeting at a three-day convention for the final time to make input in the draft Communications Bill clause by clause.

The Bill was introduced with the intention to establish a single independent regulator for the three sectors. The gathering will consider the role of the new authority, its powers, its funding and its relationship with the line ministry.

Also to be thrashed out by government and industry-players are the licensing regimes, if at all, or to create technology and service neutrality; licensing fees or profit-sharing regimes; value added network services; the broadcasting regulatory landscape; and the regulation of competition in the information and communications sector.

Speaking at the opening of the convention, Prime Minister Nahas Angula said the government is committed to achieving liberalization of the information and communications sector in alignment with the World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations, and that it is a process which has already been embarked upon.

“The creation of a commission [the regulatory authority] is part of the process, and so is the issuance of a second mobile licence. However, we need to concretize a policy attached to a portfolio minister, hence the importance of the outcome of this process,” said Angula.

The process is spearheaded by a government technical steering committee consisting of members of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, the Namibian Communications Commission and the Office of the Attorney-General.

Submissions were gathered from Telecom Namibia, mobile operators Cell One and MTC, MultiChoice Namibia and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Namibia.

The stakeholders proposed for the independence of the proposed regulator, and call for the promotion and regulation of convergence of telecommunications and broadcasting.

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