CRAN, the year that was
By Heinrich Mihe Gaomab II
Chairperson, CRAN Board of Directors.
In a world where technology is urging the tides of change forward, Namibia, like all other countries, has been forced to up its game to ensure that regulations are current, relevant and serves the needs and expectations of Namibia’s information and communication technology (ICT) consumers.
With this, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia’s (CRAN) mantra of a high quality, accessible and affordable communications technological need for all Namibians has become even more important today.
Amidst the unforeseen, unprecedented and catastrophic Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), Authorities such as CRAN have become increasingly crucial to making online interactions safe, secure and protected.
Much like the rest of Namibia and around the world, CRAN and its employees were not immune to this virus and as staff of the CRAN began testing positive for COVID-19, the Authority with urgency, reevaluated its strategy to ensure the well-being of employees whilst still ensuring that the needs of ICT consumers and stakeholders were met.
In regards to the safety of employees, CRAN undertook to adhere to the national health protocols in what has become the new norm of social and work environment requirements. To minimise the spread and contamination in the workplace, CRAN implemented social distancing at the work place, made mask wearing mandatory and put in place hand sanitizing stations to best play its part in preventing the further spread of the pandemic.
Additionally, to further ensure employees’ safety, work-from-home was introduced in an effort to safeguard our employees. CRAN, in consultation with Telecommunications Services Licensees, approved two toll free emergency numbers, 0800 100 100 and 911, for reporting COVID-19 incidences.
This initiative was welcomed by Namibians and was well utilised nationally by members of the public and so proved to be a successful initiative. In this milestone 9th year of CRAN’s existence, the pandemic set a new course for CRAN and its business strategy through 2020. The year was filled with unexpected disruptions, but this did not deter CRAN from making headway on key projects earmarked for 2020.
One of the topmost priorities CRAN managed to successfully roll out, in what is becoming this increasingly digital society, was to re-evaluate and revamp its online website and presence. On the 11th of July 2020, when lockdown had put the majority of Namibians in “stay at home” situations, as from mid-March 2020, CRAN launched its revamped website which provided much needed, in depth and detailed critical information, news and documents and online consumer protection submission functionality.
The revamped website has been a new basis to allow stakeholders to engage CRAN, on issues pertaining to cyber protection, Spectrum Licences awarded to Broadcasters, ICT statistics, tariffs and vacancies, available tenders and tender awards. The website provides content on CRAN’s history, activities and is informative on future plans that have made CRAN what it is today and what it wishes to be in the future.
The website is a new and crucial resource for wider outreach to inform, engage and interact with the public, and provides an understanding of what is required for and by our stakeholders in terms of the ICT landscape in Namibia.
Memorandum of Understanding
2020 also saw CRAN’s successful conclusion and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). This MoU was agreed upon by legal teams from CRAN and NCAA and enables the regulations and governing relationship between the two entities pertaining to all communications on route, during approach, when landing and taking-off of aircrafts in the Namibian skies. This was a highly necessary and impactful agreement.
Performance and Governance Agreement
Additionally, on 12 October 2020, CRAN’s Board of Directors signed a Performance and Governance agreement with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). The agreement serves as a tool through which the Government of the Republic of Namibia holds public office bearers accountable, for terms as listed under the agreement, and allows for a continuous maintenance of checks and balances on the affairs of a public entity.
This brings about an ease in monitoring and evaluating performances of a State-owned entity. With the signing of this agreement, CRAN Board Members undertook to proactively account to robust, timely and transparent delivery on its mandate in the best interest of all Namibians.
An important initiative to CRAN has been the growing utilisation of E-learning. As one might assume, the current pandemic has added quite a strain on especially educational institutions to provide access to digital resources to ensure learners are receiving education through online platforms. In this momentous year, CRAN was challenged in doing just that as COVID-19 demanded double the action from CRAN and all ICT service and product providers.
The year 2020 saw an increase in the demand for accessing information as it became a matter of importance for issues relating to health, education and communication. There has never been a greater need for the ICT sector to create an easier, affordable and quality access to ICT products and services to be the enabler of e-learning, information dissemination and for connecting people who could not meet face-to-face. CRAN has thus recognised the need for further development in this field and commits itself to adjusting its policy and regulations to provide for this need.
Appointment of Chief Executive Officer
In the last month of 2020, CRAN appointed its new Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Emilia Nghikembua, a long-standing member of CRAN who joined the company in 2011 as a Legal Advisor. By 2015, she climbed the ranks to Head Legal Advisor until her hard work and dedicated service was celebrated at new heights on the 10th of December 2020 with her new position. Mrs. Nghikembua was selected as the best candidate for this position as she possessed the required experience and skills, was dynamic and would bring new energy necessary in these unprecedented and trying times.
CRAN celebrated and raised awareness of important celebratory days that acknowledged the importance of accessible and affordable information for all. These included the celebration and raising awareness of World Telecommunications Day, International Day for Universal Access to information and World Post Day. The celebration of these awareness days are important as they are an essential element in providing access to ICT and its sub-sectors namely, postal, telecommunications and broadcasting. And what better way to promote such days than to disseminate the message across Namibia on the importance and role of ICT in our daily lives.
As a direct result of the pandemic, organisations all over the world have had to change how they operate in order to achieve their goals. Companies will have to almost reinvent themselves through new operating models, capitalising on this malleable moment and the resulting spread of agile processes, nimbler ways and methods of working with increased speed and productivity.
CRAN’s authority, as mandated and established in terms of the Communications Act, (No. 8 of 2009), is to provide for the regulation of telecommunications services and networks, broadcasting, postal services and the use and allocation of radio spectrum, has as in its vision of access, quality and affordability for all, a long road ahead to provide for the Namibian people its promise in these new times.
Moving into 2021, CRAN remains committed to contribute towards Namibia’s sustainable socio-economic development and will continue to reach out to facilitate the adoption of technological information to take Namibia into the future. CRAN will ensure that necessary measures are taken to protect and position itself to be of better resilience to these challenging times.