Embracing technology to drive economic growthNamibia has recognised the importance of digital transformation as a critical component of economic growth and development. The country is making significant progress and is embracing digital technologies and leveraging them to enhance competitiveness, spur innovation, and improve the quality of life of its citizens.
Namibia is driving its economic growth by implementing legislation and initiatives surrounding information and communication technology (ICT). These policies and initiatives foster a conducive environment for digital innovation and provide the necessary infrastructure and resources for digital transformation. Some of the key initiatives include the establishment of the National ICT Policy, the establishment of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran), and the launch of the Namibian Broadband Policy.
One of the key drivers of digital transformation in Namibia has been the growth of mobile and internet penetration. According to a study in 2022 by Cran, the 4G population coverage stood at 85%, and internet penetration was 51%.
This growth in mobile and internet penetration has created opportunities for small to medium businesses, the government, the private sector, and individuals to access and leverage digital technologies for various purposes, including communication, e-commerce, education, and e-government services.
Digital transformation in Namibia is also making its mark in the e-government sector. For example, Green Enterprise Solutions, a leading ICT solutions provider, implemented an online student loan management system for the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) that allows students to apply for loans from anywhere and assists NSFAF in keeping records up-to-date regarding beneficiaries and amounts disbursed.
Notably, the home affairs ministry recently launched an online passport and short-term work visa application platform, improving the ministry's service efficiency and customer service. Additionally, several ministries and state-owned enterprises are investing in digital solutions to improve their productivity and to serve their clients effectively and efficiently.
The increasing availability of digital infrastructure is pivotal to developing Namibia's digital economy. Significant investments have been made in expanding the country's telecommunications infrastructure recently, with several companies launching high-speed mobile networks and internet services nationwide. Further development of a digital economy in Namibia hinges on the increasing availability of digital infrastructure. This will lead to more significant opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation and improved access to education and healthcare services. The continued expansion of digital infrastructure in Namibia is critical to ensuring that all citizens can fully participate in and benefit from the digital economy.
The financial sector is another area where digital transformation is evident in Namibia. The country's central bank, the Bank of Namibia (BoN), has been actively promoting the adoption of digital financial services, including mobile banking and digital payments.
BoN recently published a consultation paper on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) to enhance financial inclusion, improve access to digital financial services, enhance the efficiency of national payment systems, and encourage the broad digitisation of traditionally cash-based segments of the population.
Despite the continuous progress in digital transformation in Namibia, challenges still need to be addressed. One of the critical challenges is the high cost of internet connectivity, which remains a barrier to internet access for many Namibians. Additionally, there is a vital need to increase the number of skilled professionals in the ICT sector, as this is limiting Namibia's digital ecosystem growth.
In conclusion, Namibia is on the right trajectory and is implementing and harnessing the benefits of digital transformation. While challenges remain, there is a solid commitment and desire to drive digital transformation and leverage technology, with organisations like Green Enterprise Solutions already well-versed in digital transformation projects. The groundwork has been laid, and with the government and private sector working together to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital space, there is much to be optimistic about. It is time for Namibians to embrace digital transformation and capitalise on the opportunities.
Tatenda Akirina Malunga is the team lead for business analysis, software bids, and change management at Green Enterprise Solutions.
No comments have been left on this article