Query: How does ICT infrastructure play a role in our country’s economy, environment and social progress?
Response: ICT infrastructure and services are considerably changing the way citizens interact with each other and express their opinions on social, political and economic issues through social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, talk shows on national radios, television and newspapers. You would note that citizens can transact; whether purchasing airtime, electricity, sending money while in their comfort of his/her home, business.
ICT infrastructure offers a range of technologies to assist organisations to run efficiently. These services are essential to the everyday mechanics of an organisation and integral to effective service delivery. It is now a fact – as evidenced by developments in other countries – that ICT is a basic enabler and that the ICT sector contributes immensely to the GDP of a nation. It can also result in improved competitiveness of a nation’s products and services on the market. ICTs impact positively on governance and other sectors of the economy. In turn ICT can effectively assist international economic integration, improve living standards of the country’s inhabitants, narrow the digital divide, and improve biodiversity utilisation.
As per the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) the ICT sector is an enabler to achieve national development goals, namely economic growth; employment creation and income equality. The desired outcome of NDP4 is that “adequate ICT Infrastructure will be in place to facilitate economic development and competitiveness through innovation, research and development by 2017”. Noting that ICT has created the enabling provisions for knowledge-based societies to emerge, which leads to the development of knowledge-based economies.
Query: Will MICT also look at ways to encourage other communication industries to develop, such as the film industry, radio, television etc?
Response: Television and radio broadcasting recently migrated from analogue to digital formats. In this case NBC introduced more than one channel to accommodate local content. Funding towards the film and video development fund, as administered by the Namibia Film Commission (NFC), has increased over the years as the ministry has seen the need for the development of the industry. The NFC offers a number of filming workshops on an annual basis to creative Namibians interested in filmmaking, whether it be as scriptwriters, video editors, producers or directors. The Commission has also committed to sponsoring 10 students of the College of Arts specialising in TV production annually. In addition, the Commission funds short films, documentaries, animation, features, low-budget films and TV series, while filmmakers are also assisted with development funding to improve on projects. The NFC has since last year started an incubation programme for the industry, aimed at supporting upcoming film companies. All this support to local filmmakers greatly contributes to the growth and development of the film industry. The NFC continuously engages stakeholders to sustain the debate on the importance of the creative industries and recently held its inaugural conference, themed ‘Building a Film Financing Model and Strategy for Namibia’. While awarding the best films through the Film and Theatre Awards, it also screens local films in towns and villages at no cost, for the benefit of Namibians from all walks of life.
Query: Are there any plans to introduce affordable and cheap technology so that any person can have access to the internet, such as a cheap computer or smartphone?
Response: The Ministry of Information has developed the Universal Access Policy, which aims at expanding ICT infrastructure with the focus on rural areas in order to bridge the digital gap between urban and rural areas. Universal access for Namibia encompasses the near-ubiquitous availability, affordability and accessibility of information and communications technology infrastructure, services and content to the overwhelming majority of communities through public access points in communities, schools, libraries, clinics and the like.
This ministry is busy drafting the Broadband Policy with its Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) to provide a framework for a holistic development of broadband services in Namibia. A Universal Access Service Fund will be established to support innovative entrepreneurs to explore solutions.
Query: When it comes to piracy, is Namibia currently working with other foreign countries to stop piracy of intellectual property, especially when it comes to entertainment?
Response: Namibia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Rights Organisation (WIPO) and a signatory to the Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty that standardises basic copyright protection among all of the signatory countries. A member country will afford the same treatment to a copyright owner from another country, as it does to owners in its own country. This deals with the protection of works and the rights of their creators. This convention is based on three basic principles and contains a series of provisions determining the minimum protection to be granted.
The three basic principles are:
(a) Works originating in one of the Contracting States (that is, works the creator of which is a national of such a State or works first published in such a State) must be given the same protection in each of the other Contracting States, as the latter grants to the works of its own nationals (principle of “national treatment”), (2) The minimum standards of protection relate to the works and rights to be protected, and to the duration of protection, (3) Automatic protection: Such protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality, including the right to translate, the right to make adaptations and arrangements of the work, the right to perform in public dramatic, dramatico-musical and musical works, the right to recite in public literary works, the right to communicate to the public the performance of such works, the right to broadcast, the right to make reproductions in any manner or form, the right to use the work as a basis for an audiovisual work, and the right to reproduce, distribute, perform in public or communicate to the public that audiovisual work.
The Convention also provides for “moral rights” – the right to claim authorship of the work and the right to object to any mutilation or deformation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to the work, which would be prejudicial to the author’s honour or reputation.
Namibia is also a member of African Regional Intellectual Property Rights Organisation (ARIPO). In addition, reciprocal agreements have also been signed between Namibia Society for Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM), a collective management organisation established by the Namibian Copyright Act of 1994, under Section 56-60, and its counterparts in other countries to ensure that Namibia’s copyright holders are rewarded when their works are utilised in other member state countries.
NASCAM is also a member of International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies (CISAC) an international body, which was created as a result of the need for an international body to coordinate the activities of these collection management organisations (CMOs) and the more efficient protection of copyright worldwide. Its membership consists of over 200 societies worldwide, administering not only musical works, but also other related rights.
Namibia is also a member of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), an independent organisation established on the basis of the fundamental international copyright principles, embodied in the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions. Its purpose is to facilitate on an international basis the collective management of reproduction and other rights relevant to copyrighted works through the cooperation of national reproduction rights organisations (RROs). IFRRO, through its members, supports creators and publishers alike and provides a common international platform to foster the establishment of appropriate legal frameworks for the protection and use of their works.
Media Liaison Services, Print Media Affairs in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Tel: 061 283 9111.