Windhoek-Information and Communication Technology Minister Tjekero Tweya has castigated ICT service providers that he says have failed the nation by not providing them with the available technological services 27 years after independence.
“Twenty-seven years after independence we have Namibians who do not have access to the NBC signal for TV services, let alone mobile telecommunications and internet services,” Tweya said while officiating at the annual Southern Africa Telecommunication Association (SATA) conference in Windhoek on Wednesday.
He said he was glad SATA decided on a much clearer strategy to enhance and improve quality services and, by the same token, guaranteed consumers of ICT products and services a breakthrough experience.
Tweya called on SATA to place special emphasis on its members to ensure that citizens of SADC enjoy quality services and great customer experiences, as attested by this year theme: ‘Quality of Services and Customer Experience’.
He said once SADC achieves these milestones, it would influence other regional blocks on the continent to follow the shining example of SATA, and this would give true meaning to concepts, such as the Day of the African Child.
“We have a moral obligation to make our countries shine, to make our region SADC shine, to make Africa shine. Africa expects from us to do just that, nothing more, nothing less,” he stressed.
He added that the conference comes at a time when funds are becoming increasingly scarce in all sectors of the economy.
However, he said this should not be used as an excuse to further deprive the people of southern Africa of quality ICT services and breakthrough customer experiences.
“As a matter of fact, ICT consumers demand industry expansion, change of technologies and growth in SADC and I would like to congratulate SATA and its secretariat for your effort to fast-track interconnection regionally with breakthrough linkages with the world,” he said.
According to Tweya, this requires ICT service providers in the region to adopt new ways of out-of-the-box thinking to give added impetus to the potential of ICT to enhance economic development in today’s digital world and be adept at meeting and matching the heightened expectations of digital-savvy customers.
“We need to realise that differentiation is now increasingly defined by a network operator and service provider’s ability to enable customers to interact with them with minimised effort,” said the minister.
However, he said, consumers of ICT services and products do not get value for money. “It is certainly not the case at this point in time,” he added. Tweya said the ICT industry must connect customers wherever they are in SADC and beyond, at affordable rates.
“What we are experiencing right now is that service costs are way too expensive and this price often comes with lack of quality,” he said. “SME entrepreneurs whose offices and workplaces are the mobiles phones are suffering, because of the exorbitant roaming charges,” he noted.
He added, for example, that Namibia is rated as the third most expensive country in terms of telecommunication costs in the region.