Unlocking the power of ICTs to drive socio-economic transformation
By Roger Gertze
MD Multichoice Namibia.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are not just economic enablers, but powerful tools with the potential to transform economies by contributing to accelerated Gross Domestic Products and increased labour productivity growth rates.
This is noted by the Ministry of Information and Technology in its Strategic Plan 2017-2022 that seeks to build an informed and inclusive ICT-smart Namibia through improved ICT infrastructure development, access and use; access to information; and enabling environments that support service delivery.
This plan is aligned with Vision 2030, the National Development Plan (NDP) 5 including the Harambee Prosperity Plan, and is a solid attempt by our government to unlock the wealth of potential harnessed within ICTs.
Advantages of the digital economy
The benefits of embracing these technologies are well documented, especially in the African context.
ICTs enable countries to leapfrog many developmental obstacles to become active participants in various industries; enhance service delivery in remote areas where traditional infrastructure is limited or lacking; and help facilitate more inclusive societies.
In essence, Namibia has a significant competitive advantage when it comes to successfully competing in the African ICT environment and occupying a leading position within the southern region.
More than just technology
But understanding the true power of ICTs goes beyond the technology itself to the opportunities such tech offers citizens.
Satellite-TV is a great example. Before DStv was launched in Namibia in 1995, we only had analogue TV. This meant limited viewing in terms of both the number of channels available and the content we viewed. Fast forward to 2020 and we’re watching 180+ channels on up to four different devices, anywhere, anytime.
It’s easy to see why the Ministry of Information and Technology is calling on ICT players to facilitate the accessibility of information, computer literacy and ways to bridge the digital divide.
A Namibian ICT anchor
Staying with the satellite-TV example, in Namibia, MultiChoice Namibia has four branches employing 140 staff, 130+ installers and 33 agents, with its products being made available through 300+ retailers across the country. In this way, the company actively contributes to employment, skills development and broad, national access to ICT technology, directly in line with government’s objectives.
From an innovation perspective, MultiChoice was the first to pioneer satellite-TV in Namibia, becoming the second sat-TV joint venture in Southern Africa after South Africa. It has maintained this trailblazing status with constant innovation upgrades: Explora decoders, mobile viewing offerings, advanced self-service platforms including apps, and a DStv customer WhatsApp service.
Going forward, the broadcaster will introduce additional innovative products to Namibia in the form of a video-on-demand service, Showmax, as already has 18 real-time payment platforms.
Across the entire spectrum of MultiChoice Namibia’s business, at every stakeholder touchpoint, it functions as a trusted ICT brand.
Enriching lives with ICT
MultiChoice Namibia, as a wholly Namibian company and leading ICT anchor, is playing an active transformational role, utilising communication technology to enrich the lives of its customers.
However, key ingredients to this success are having an enabling government as well as regulatory regimes that stimulate business, including the broader economy.
It is now up to ICT partners to work together so that the power of this technology can be properly harnessed to create prosperity for all.