CRAN overlooks regulation impact

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) Type Approval which was introduced on 1 November seems to be a thorn in the flesh as many companies in the IT industry have cried foul.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) defines ‘Type Approval’ as the technical evaluation of equipment against prescribed specifications with the objective of determining its conformance to these specifications, but as CRAN implemented the Regulation, the authority seemed to have overlooked what equipment and devices will be affected.
The Economist caught up with Pinnacle Namibia, a leading Information and Communication Technology product distribution company, to unpack what is taking place in the industry.
Managing Director, Pinnacle Namibia, John Kirton told the Economist that their company’s turnover has dropped by N$4 million due to products that they can not import into the country, as CRAN’s Regulation on Type Approval came into play.
“Not only is this affecting us but we have 450 resellers whose livelihood is dependent on products that they again can sell to consumers. The Receiver of Revenue is also loosing on lower Import duty and VAT. The entire concept that ICT must create jobs and make Namibia competitive is under threat,” he said.
According to Kirton, his company has 300 line items and with the implementation of the Type Approval regulations most of the products that are imported with WIFI and Bluetooth capabilities like Lenovo, Dell laptops and tablets, Proline Laptops, printers and televisions have been affected, with the ripple effect bound to disturb their clients that include the government, corporate companies and SME businesses.
Furthermore he said the motor industry has also now been affected as most vehicles nowadays have wireless devices on board.
“All in all just about all products that have WIFI and Bluetooth capabilities that are not Type Approved will not come in. What still when the Internet of Things (IOT) arrives and all appliances connect to the internet?” he added.
Another company, Axiz Workgroup also recently informed their partners that in light of CRAN’s regulations the company will be unable to import Wireless and Bluetooth products until further notice and all they could do is wait for official correspondence from the regulatory body.
Kirton said that the biggest problem is the time it is taking for the approvals to come through and this is mainly because CRAN is hopelessly understaffed as they only have one person for a venture of this magnitude. “CRAN itself has no means or expertise to Type Approve any product on their own .It takes us approximately 2 month to get all the documents they require from the vendors as well as the ICASA Type Approval from South Africa,” he explained.
Kirton is of the view that the CRAN red tape can potential encourage underhand dealings which will adversely affect most businesses that are in compliance with CRAN’s rules. “They claim there are too many GREY products coming in. We have suggested that they regulate the importers and distributors who are all corporate companies with corporate governance and yearly audits and have the authorisation from the vendors to supply and sell their products and then visit China Town to find the Grey products. There are already rumours that people will start to undermine the system to avoid the CRAN issue,” he added. Meanwhile, the Economist also spoke to Paul Rowney, Chairman of the ICT Professionals Association of Namibia who echoed Kirton’s view saying the industry has several concerns on the implementation of this regulation.
“The ICT PAN had in the past coordinated stakeholder consultations with CRAN and raised the concerns of the industry which CRAN promptly ignored,” he said.

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