ICT for Poverty Alleviation

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By Catherine Sasman

WINDHOEK

Although Namibia has made positive strides in the development of its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, there are still costly limitations on rural community services.

“The ICT sector has the potential to become a principal source of new employment opportunities, especially for young people, mostly in smaller and medium-sized firms. However, to tap its potential, we will have to work hard and move fast, because with each day of inaction, the information gap widens and the digital divide increases,” said Prime Minister Nahas Angula at the national ICTs for poverty reduction and sustainable development conference held last week.

He said the challenge was to bring Africa into the new information technology and that training was imperative.

“The education sector has developed an ICT policy and implementation strategy. It is not enough. We must also target the broader population, especially out-of-school young people,” said Angula.

The conference assessed ICT usage in the country to become a people-centred knowledge society by 2030.

“The ICT sector is cross-cutting, and each and every sector has to find the best ways of using ICTs to help it meet the challenges in a globalized world,” said Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Both the Geneva and Tunis phases of the World Summit on the Information Society deliberated at length on financing mechanisms to allow, among others, developing countries into the fold of the Information Society.

The two summits emphasized smart partnerships between civil society, the private and public sectors and the international community to ensure access to technologies that will help nations to benefit from ICTs.

“The deployment of ICTs is expensive but, with cooperation, many of the hurdles in rolling out infrastructure and ensuring access can be overcome,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.

She said Namibia would pay attention to the special needs of the marginalized and vulnerable groups of society.

“We agreed that the full participation of women in the Information Society is necessary to ensure the inclusiveness and respect for human rights within the Information Society.”

She acknowledged, though, that since the adoption of the ICT Policy in 2002, not much was done to ensure the implementation thereof and the promotion of ICTs in the country.

The policy will be reviewed to bring it in line with the latest technological developments, giving due attention to convergence.

“The ICT sector is important for everybody, and all must come on board; social inclusion is important,” said South African Minister of Communication, Dr Ivy Matsepe-Cassaburri.

“We must grapple with the opportunities of the sector and make sure we do not fail in the mission; it is in the national interest, the African interest, to work together as SADC to ensure that we achieve a better life on the continent.”

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