Namibia: PM Urges Hi-Tech Services for the Region's Masses
Providers of television, Internet and other communications services need to make them more accessible and affordable to lower-income groups and rural communities, Prime Minister Nahas Angula has urged. Speaking at the opening of the annual general meeting of the Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (Crasa) last week, Angula said competitors in the industry, such as mobile telephone providers, resisted sharing existing infrastructure.
"They instead invest hundreds of millions of dollars replicating infrastructure that largely exists but they could rather be tasked with erecting new infrastructure that would extend the national transmission network," the Prime Minister said. If regulation was possible to that extent, it could dramatically accelerate network coverage and service provision in rural areas, he said. "What I am a propagating is more lateral thinking of the kind that created the pre-paid airtime solutions that have had such an impact on broadening cellular telecommunications access in our region," Angula urged.
The telecommunications industry could consider offering some facilities like spare channels, off-peak airtime or bandwidth in the Internet and video-conferencing networks to development agents such as social and health workers and agricultural extension officers for open learning, training and meetings. As a regional body, Crasa is responsible for harmonisation in the information and communications regulatory environment in the SADC region and the development of sustainable communications.