"Welcome remarks" by Mr. Lazarus Jacobs at the gala dinner in honour of Mr. Houlin Zhao, 31 July 2014.
Esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen, It is indeed an honour and privilege to celebrate the presence and welcome the venerated Deputy Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, Mr Houlin Zhao, at this historic occasion.
Your visit to the Land of the Brave is of particular significance as it has come at a time where the Namibian lCT sector has come of age and has made its stance in a world of global competitiveness. A position we would not have been in so soon had it not been for the invaluable assistance of the International Telecommunications Union.
Mr Zhao, a special word of gratitude to you in person for playing an instrumental role in enhancing the strategic partnership between the ITU and Namibia.
The importance of consolidating and strengthening the linkages and synergies through networking and knowledge sharing for the development of Africa's ICT sector cannot be emphasised enough. We must continue to seek ways to build capacity and strengthen human capital in order to keep up with the growing requirements of an extremely competitive and dynamic industry.
On behalf of the Namibian Government, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) and the entire ICT industry of Namibia, we salute you and express our sincerest gratitude for your efforts. It is visits such as this, that one strengthens and entrenches bilateral relationships. You have met the main players in the Namibian ICT sector during the course of today. I trust that you have found these meetings productive and insightful.
Since its inception, CRAN has most definitely left an imprint on the Namibian ICT sector by levelling the playing field, while at the same time making tremendous strides towards improving Namibia's international ICT rating.
Having begun as a taskforce of a few specialists, CRAN has morphed into a fully-fledged organisation. The foundation has been laid that will continue to push Namibia to the forefront of ICT globally. Furthermore, CRAN is a converged Regulator for broadcasting, telecommunications and postal with a Service
and Technology Neutral license regime something many European operators envy.
As part of the foundation laid, CRAN has done an allocation study on spectrum allocation and is working on allocating the 800 band for IMT services (L TE) and the 700 and 800 Bands for Digital Terrestrial television (DTT) will be cleaned for IMT (L TE) services, as we want to use these bands as leverage to roll-out services
into rural area's. Furthermore, a spectrum audit was also completed and we are proud to announce that all pending spectrum assignments, including the applications submitted before the inception of CRAN, were finalised by June 2012.
CRAN also approved the trial for TV White Spaces to determine the feasibility that would allow spectrum sharing between broadcasters and telecommunications licensees, pending the outcome of the World Radio Conference to be held in November 2015.
I am also proud to announce that crucial effort was made by CRAN to establish a firm
regulatory framework for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) switch over process and formulated a comprehensive frequency channeling plan, which other SADC regulators are using to benchmark. Due to concerted efforts of other key stakeholders such as the Ministry of ICT and NBC, Namibia has covered 61 % of its population with DTT and I believe that Namibia will in all likelihood be ready for
Analogue Switch Off by June 2015 as determined by the ITU.
Although we achieved a number of things over the past three years, there are still challenges that we need to overcome such as setting up adequate infrastructure to allow for greater reach in terms of Internet Access and Broadband capacity thus we look forward to working with the Ministry of lCT to develop an "overarching digitization" broadband policy.
Another challenge would be to strengthen, harmonise and integrate policy and regulatory frameworks in the African region, particularly when it comes to Home and Away Roaming, open access to backbone infrastructure and undersea cables and converged licensing regimes to provide quad play services The evolution of the use of data services, social media, electronic transactions and banking services facing increased cyber security risks will challenge CRAN to continuously keep abreast of new technologies and trends to fulfill its advisory role to the Ministry and forward
looking regulation of the industry.
As the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia, we are guided by the objectives of the Communications Act that mandates us to ensure affordability of services, public availability of quality services, fair competition, encourage private investment and local participation, to mention but a few.
The Namibia 2011 Population and Housing Census Main Report indicates that the majority (69%) of Namibians have access to radio, with slightly greater access in urban (74%) than rural (65%) areas. Cellphones are much more widespread across the country than fixed line telephones, access to cellphones being about eight times greater. However, access to other modern information and communication
technology such as computers and the Internet is fairly limited, particularly in rural areas.
Clearly there is a gap between the rural and urban populations as far as the integration and access to lCT services are concerned.
As an intervention in bridging the digital divide, CRAN has formulated Universal Access and Service regulations and will soon establish a Universal Service Fund from which subsidies will be paid to telecommunication licensees to subsidise the provision of telecommunication services to the country.
The recently released Market Report indicates a vibrant landscape in the Namibian ICT sector. Namibia's mobile voice costs was recorded to be one of the cheapest in Africa (3rd cheapest) However, mobile broadband, mobile prepaid voice and leased line prices shows that Namibia falls behind in terms of affordability.
CRAN will monitor developments and look into pro-competitive regulatory strategies as it develops its 2015 and beyond Strategic and Operational Plans. This will be undertaken to ensure the regulatory objectives of competition, affordability and universal access and usage, innovation and quality of service are achieved.
Lastly, we are set to be globally competitive and committed to becoming a dynamic regulator of the ICT sector, transforming Namibia and its people into an active knowledge-based society in order to derive the full socio-economic benefits of ICTs.
I thank you.