WINDHOEK – Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joël Kaapanda, says the creation of the communication regulator, and its subsequent achievements, would be one of the things he would remember most from his time as Namibia’s first ICT minister.
Kaapanda goes into retirement after the inauguration of Namibia’s third president and new Cabinet on March 21. He said farewell to the industry’s captains during a farewell dinner in Windhoek on Monday evening.
“For such a young authority, Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has achieved some milestones worth mentioning since its inception on 18 May 2011,” said Kaapanda.
He went on to mention the regulation of mobile companies, saying without such intervention the market would have seen the emergence of one mobile company being too dominant and acting on its own without regulation.
He also praised Namibia’s mobile penetration, saying it is now at 100 percent. “Even old people can SMS,” he says.
“I am sure each one of us has noticed a significant reduction in the price we pay for our phone calls over the past few years. I will have you know that CRAN was instrumental in successfully negotiating for a reduction in the termination rate between mobile operators from N$1.06 down to N$0.20,” Kaapanda says.
“Not only did this reduction help you pay less for your phone call, it also goes further by assisting new entrants into the market to become more competitive since the rates reduce the cost operators pay to each other in order to carry calls,” he says.
CRAN also developed the frequency-channelling plan to provide a regulatory framework in Namibia’s migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT).
Kaapanda says Namibia’s plan of migration from analogue to DTT has been so successful that a number of other SADC member states are using it as a benchmark as they too embark on their road to switch over to DTT.
During its short lifespan, CRAN has developed one of the best data collection systems in the SADC region. This system allows CRAN to accurately gather the required regulatory statistics from operators in order to evaluate the impact of regulatory decisions, to monitor the health of the sector and to comply with international reporting requirements.
In line with the statutory data collection requirements, CRAN is one of the best regulators in SADC and the whole of Africa which regularly publishes the annual ‘Telecommunications Sector Performance Review’ report. This report reviews the financial health and performance of operators, consumer price developments, challenges in the competitive landscape, and the general ICT trends of the year under review.
“No official spectrum band plan has been published for Namibia since 1978. CRAN recently developed an all-new spectrum band plan, which sets a basis for the regulatory framework for spectrum management, ensures harmonisation with the rest of the SADC region and adheres to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) regulations,” says Kaapanda.