Minister of Information Communication Technology (MICT) Tjekero Tweya has urged the Communication Regulatory Authorities in Southern Africa (CRASA) to vigorously pursue its mission, which is to position ICT as a catalyst for socio-economic development.
Tweya was speaking at the 5th annual general meeting of the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa that concluded in Swakopmund on Friday. The event was attended by 11 CRASA member countries in SADC. The AGM was hosted under the theme, “ICT a catalyst for socio-economic development.”
CRASA is a voluntary association with its head office in Gaborone, Botswana, and is made up of 13 member countries. The AGM is the highest policy-making institution of CRASA and is the highest decision-making structure of CRASA. Approximately 60 delegates, representing Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe attended the AGM.
According to the minister, the communication regulators of the region must ensure at all costs that information and technology are accessible to all citizens in Africa. For instance, Namibia cannot claim to have breached the digital gap if many Africans have no access to information.
“Imagine you wake up one morning and your TV, radio and cellular phones don’t work. You’ll panic. However, this is the situation most of our citizens find themselves in, especially in rural areas. We should make sure this does not happen at all and, therefore, must create gateways so that information and communication technology is accessible to all Africans.”
Referring to Namibia’s targets, Tweya said at least 80 percent of Namibia must to be covered by broadband services by 2020, as well as the extension of broadband connections and usage to all primary and secondary schools in Namibia to facilitate e-learning. Namibia plans to implement e-health and 100 percent broadband connections for all public sector agencies by 2020, as well as 100 percent coverage by digital television and radio broadcast to all households.
“This is certainly no mean task and l need the uncompromising support and assistance of all Namibians from all walks of life, including the member states of CRASA,” he said, noting that Namibia cannot claim to have bridged the digital gap, when most – if not all – African countries lack access to fundamental human rights linked to education, health, information, shelter, food, the minister said.
He said regulatory authorities are political requirements to create and open gateways for citizens to have unhindered access to information, as they were set up to facilitate a legal framework to advance technological revolutions and to pave the way in rolling out ICT structures.