By Fifi Rhodes
Namibia’s mobile landscape has changed for the better over the past year with the introduction of the country’s second mobile operator.
And now scepticism has made way for optimism and trust, considering the excellent track record of the new arrival.
This was said by Joel Kaapanda, Minister of Information and Communication Technology during Cell One’s one-year anniversary celebration in Windhoek on Wednesday.
The celebration was hosted at Parliament Gardens in the form of a breakfast that was attended by high-ranking officials from the private sector.
A toast to the occasion went well with champagne and an assurance by the minister that the sector would receive his dedication, support and commitment to work together and strive to build the country, especially to provide world-class mobile services to the masses.
“The introduction of competition in the mobile market has had the desired effects, one of which is a remarkable reduction in call rates, and Namibians can send text messages for free.”
Kaapanda said a well developed and efficient cellular telecommunications infrastructure is essential in the modern day global community where access to information through mobile networks has become a necessity.
He said that despite the daunting task in a country such as Namibia with its lengthy distances, high costs and a population that is scattered over a vast area, Cell One has risen to the challenge during the year to establish infrastructure in areas where Namibians live and work.
“Mobile connectivity supports interaction as it helps people to keep in touch, regardless of geographical location. Through this connectivity many Namibians are able to participate in debates of national issues that affect their day-to-day lives,” he said.
The soft-spoken minister hinted that there are numerous possibilities for exploiting the available infrastructure to grow business activities countrywide.
He said that during the raging floods in the northern parts of the country, communication had helped a great deal in the assessment of the damage caused and that Government’s response to the plight of the people was made effective by its ability to communicate with people on the ground. Mobile telecommunication has played a big role in the various relocation and rehabilitation efforts currently under way, he said.
“The benefits of mobile telecommunications are not limited to the sector and its subscribers, but can and should be extended to the country as a whole.
“Being at the forefront of technology-driven solutions, mobile operators such as Cell One have the ability and responsibility to ensure that the benefits of its offerings are felt by all, regardless of their locality and level of income,” he urged the operator.
Kaapanda also assured the communication sector that Government is aware of the challenges the industry is facing, particularly in terms of creating a comprehensive and conducive legal framework that can facilitate the growth of the industry.
“I am happy to inform you that Government has already started to seriously address these challenges with the creation of the new ministry of Information and Communication technology. I can confidently state that my first priority task is to ensure that the long outstanding Information and Communication Bill is adopted.”
He praised Cell One for providing Namibians with a choice in mobile communications by providing appropriate and suitable products and services, and for contributing to the development of the Namibian telecommunication