Private sector should support innovation and research: Tweya

WINDHOEK: The Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has called on the private and public sectors to collectively support innovation and research for the economic development of the country.

Tjekero Tweya made the call during the opening of a three-day International Conference on Emerging Trends in Networks and Computer Communications which coincided with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the First International Telegraph Convention on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

“I would like to urge some of the large ICT entities that have previously not supported these endeavours to come and be part of the team in pursuit of Namibia’s ICT agenda,” he said.

The minister noted that inadequate ICT infrastructure has been identified as a development challenge in Namibia’s fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), adding that there is a need to maintain and improve existing ICT infrastructure which focuses on rural penetration as part of public infrastructure development.

He said the inadequate access to resources among Namibians and lack of technology to exploit natural resources available in the country has contributed to underdevelopment.

Tweya said developed countries have well-informed citizens who are able to adapt quickly to changing social and economic environments, utilising ICT opportunities to overcome development challenges such as poverty.

He further noted that information can be viewed as a commodity which has the potential to make significant changes in many aspects of social and economic development.

“We need to ensure that Africa is not left behind, but has ownership of that commodity,” the minister said.

Tweya added that the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has been mandated to ensure the implementation of the Universal Service Fund, which focuses on the availability of communications services in areas where they are currently not available.

CRAN is also responsible for identifying and promoting various projects and initiatives that would provide services and access to as many Namibians as possible.

He said Government recognises that the Internet is becoming a basic component of civic life and for the knowledge-based economy as envisaged in Vision 2030.

Tweya explained that ICT is important for social and economic mobility, increased democracy especially in relation to democratising information and economic growth.

Speaking at the same occasion, Polytechnic of Namibia Rector, Tjama Tjivikua said the institution is grateful to host the conference which will create discussion among professionals around the world and enlarge the institutions’ network in the field of computing.

“We are a leading higher-educational institution in Namibia and our vision is to be a premier University of Science and Technology, educating leaders for the new economy,” he said.

Tjivikua noted that the conference aims to debate a wide spectrum of emerging topics pertaining to wired and wireless networks, high-speed sensors, mobile networks, vehicle communication, Internet security, and applications like e-agriculture, telemedicine, and education systems.

It will also focus on proposing new technologies; sharing experiences; discussing future solutions for the design of networks and computer communications systems; providing a common platform for academic pioneers, whether researchers, scientists, industrial engineers or students, to share their views and achievements; and enriching technocrats and academics by presenting innovative and constructive ideas.

The conference is sponsored by Cisco Systems; National Commission on Research, Science and Technology; IEEE South Africa; Green Enterprise Solutions; CRAN; Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture; and the ICT ministry.

Over 150 participants from all over the world are attending the conference.

It ends on Wednesday.