Regional Councils Stimulated by Internet

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By Anna Shilongo

WINDHOEK

The Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development in collaboration with the French support programme, yesterday expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the Decentralization Network Expansion Project.

The project, which will allow all the 13 regional councils in the country access to the Internet service, is funded by the French Support Programme for N$3 million.

It was initiated in October 2006 with the aim to provide all staff members of the regional councils 24-hour access to Internet and email.

Officially signing the first phase of the project, Regional Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Minister John Pandeni said the project has changed the working conditions of staff at regional councils.

“The project provides them with invaluable information, research and communication resources that were not previously available. It also greatly enhances communication within regional councils and government ministries,” said Pandeni.

He said the success of the country’s development and service provision drive depends on the implementation and access to useful and relevant information.

“Information means power, how do we get such information? Students and community leaders asked to do some research need the Internet to find information.

“With such information one can build and strengthen partnerships with other stakeholders using the Internet to give a sense of hope and a better future for all,” explained the minister.

The project is now showing glimpses of its full future potential.

Staff members of the National Planning Commission (NPC) placed at various regional councils are also making use of this network to communicate with their peers at headquarters.

“It is our firm belief that this kind of cooperation and sharing of resources between government ministries is essential in order to ensure the cost effectiveness and sustainability of computerising systems in future,” stressed Pandeni.

Equipment installed during the first phase of the project were selected specifically for their proven track record of reliability.

They are easily scalable, and also allow for the future expansion of the integrated financial management system of the Ministry of Finance, the Humans Resource Management System of the office of the prime minister and the electronic records database management system of the various regional councils.

Being linked to these systems, the minister believes, will greatly enhance the financial, administrative and records management at regional council level.

“All these systems are web-enabled systems and can easily be extended to the regional councils at fairly low cost,” he added.

“Ministries that are decentralising their regional offices can also rest assured that the computer network infrastructure of the regional councils has the capacity to accommodate any decentralization system,” said Pandeni.

Also speaking at the occasion, the French Ambassador to Namibia, Philippe Bossiere, expressed satisfaction with the project’s outcome.

“As a great outcome of this internal project, all 13 regional councils do currently have permanent access to all Internet services and are using individual government email addresses to communicate with their colleagues and external partners,” said Bossiere.

He said there is no doubt that phase 2 of the project will contribute to improve public accountability through IT technology as promoted in the Namibian Government’s e -governance strategy.

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