POLITICAL ECONOMY

Zambezi Region Takes A Digital Leap

Namibian Minister of Information and Communication Technology
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By Niël Terblanché

The construction of a new communications tower in Ikumwe village represents a significant milestone in Namibia’s quest to bridge the digital divide and enhance connectivity in rural areas.

The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Emma Theofelus stressed the transformative potential of this project during the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday.

According to her, the new tower will usher in a new era of digital inclusion and economic development for the village and the larger Zambezi Region.

Theofelus said that the lack of digital infrastructure in Namibia has long hindered local businesses from competing in the broader marketplace, thereby stifling growth and perpetuating cycles of poverty.

“The ripple effect is economic stagnation that limits job creation and reinforces cycles of poverty and underdevelopment,” she said.

The minister stressed the critical importance of addressing these disparities to foster equitable growth and development across the nation.

The new PowerCom Tower in Ikumwe will not only provide reliable connectivity to the village but also set a precedent for future infrastructure developments aimed at integrating underserved communities into Namibia’s digital future.

The new tower is expected to boost economic activity in Ikumwe and its surrounding areas, enhancing the region’s potential as a business hub due to its proximity to the border.

Theofelus noted that improved connectivity would lead to greater regional integration and open up opportunities for local businesses to engage with international markets.

She added that this development is part of a broader national strategy to modernise key aspects of Namibia’s economy through enhanced digital infrastructure.

“The government’s vision, as laid out in national development plans and the forthcoming National ICT Policy, aims to transform Namibia into a digitally empowered nation by 2030,” she said.

Theofelus emphasised the broader implications of digital transformation, particularly in education and healthcare.

She noted that enhanced connectivity would provide students in remote areas with access to vast educational resources, thereby improving their future employability and economic mobility.

Similarly, the availability of telemedicine services would address longstanding health inequalities by providing timely and critical healthcare services to rural populations.

“The absence of telemedicine and digital health services in rural and remote areas has exacerbated health inequalities for decades. Now, with enhanced, reliable connectivity, we can ensure that individuals get timely and potentially life-saving interventions,” she said.

The minister stressed that bridging the digital divide is not just a technical challenge but a societal necessity.

“Ensuring equitable access to digital services is crucial for fostering inclusive growth and enhancing democratic engagement. The lack of digital skills and access has previously limited the participation of many Namibians in policy discussions and decisions that impact their lives,” she added.

As part of its commitment to digital inclusion, the government is promoting digital literacy and expanding access to citizen-centric digital public services.

The successful implementation of an online passport application system is a testament to Namibia’s progress in this area.

The government aims to continue rolling out more digital services that will eliminate the need for physical travel, thereby reducing costs and improving accessibility for all Namibians.

She stressed the importance of youth engagement in the digital era, noting that the new tower would empower young people to acquire essential skills and engage in e-commerce and other online activities.

“Having the tower here will make our goal a reality. It will empower the youth, our future leaders, to utilise technology and create innovative solutions,” she said.

The Minister encouraged lifelong learning and up-skilling opportunities to ensure that the workforce remains relevant and resilient in the face of technological disruption.

Theofelus expressed confidence that the new tower would be operational by September’s eighth Annual National ICT Summit.

The summit, which will focus on themes of digital transformation and artificial intelligence, is expected to further strengthen Namibia’s digital journey.

‘May this digital transformation give you wings, strength, and abundance in every aspect of your lives. I look forward to unhindered and quality communication from you all once this and the other towers in the region are up,” she said.

https://www.observer24.com.na

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