WINDHOEK: Namibia needs to upgrade its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and implement policies effectively in order to succeed at becoming a digital society.
This was the view of the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Communication Technology, Moses Amweelo at a media briefing in the capital Wednesday on the committee’s recent study tour to the Republic of Estonia from 06 to 12 October.
“Estonia is an incredible success story, grown out of a partnership between a forward-thinking government, a proactive ICT sector and a switched-on, tech-savvy population,” he noted.
Amweelo said during the committee’s visits to various public and private institutions there, it found that that country is well-advanced in terms of ICT usage and penetration.
Estonia’s Internet usage is very high, and most transactions such as banking, voting, medical health prescriptions and company registrations are done from people’s homes, and carried out quickly.
“Their ICT services are decentralised in such a way that every stakeholder, be it government, a ministry or a business, gets to choose its own system in its own time. Any institution can use this infrastructure,” Amweelo said.
He added that Estonians are sure that their projects for the e-government (electronic government) framework development are making significant contributions to the process of moving towards being an information society.
Namibia, instead of developing a single all-encompassing central system, should thus create an open decentralised system that links various services and databases.
“There is also a need to introduce an enterprise ICT Board export cluster that will share innovative and cost-effective technologies that will transform Namibia into a leading e-society,” Amweelo said.
A question was asked whether these services, if introduced to Namibia, would be affordable.
Heiko Lucks, who is also a member of the ICT Standing Committee, responded that society should not pay for the services as these are services which Government intends to offer.
“These services should be offered on top of the current services that Government offers,” Lucks explained.
He further stated that these solutions are not necessarily expensive and can be cost-effective, meaning it would save Government a lot of money.
Another member of the ICT Standing Committee, Steven Bezuidenhout said on his part that the intention of the programme would be to connect all databases such as that of the Ministry of Home Affairs, schools as well as the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).
“You would, for instance, be able to purchase parking space via your mobile phone, send it to the database and just indicate how much time you will need.
There is no paperwork involved. If the traffic officer has to issue you with a ticket, he or she can also do that via the database,” Bezuidenhout explained.
He added that the benefit of such a programme would be that citizens would only need to give their details to Government once, as these details will then stay in the Government database.
“Costs and waiting time for citizens can be reduced, and services can be improved,” Bezuidenhout enthused.