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Telecom seeks to invest N$2.3 billion in digital infrastrucure in the next 5+ years

Telecom seeks to invest N$2.3 billion in digital infrastrucure in the next 5+ years

Telecom Namibia plans to invest over N$2.3 billion in the next five plus years to modernise the national network, an executive said this week.

This will include both fixed and mobile, starting with the national backbone to the core network, Telecom Namibia’s Chief Executive, Dr Stanley Shanapinda said in a statement, in response to a World Bank Group report titled, ‘Creating Markets in Namibia – Creating Resilient and Inclusive.’

The World Bank’s report released on 8 July, noted that Namibia’s costs for internet data services are high, mobile data adoption is at 36%, behind regional peers who stand at 52%;  fibre rollout and uptake is slow, with 2.5 subscriptions per 100 people; digital adoption rates are much lower than in peer countries, and there is a challenge for private business to access stable and reliable electricity.

To address this digital divide, the report emphasised the urgent need for Namibia to promote and invest in digital infrastructure. This will enable digital transformation, which in turn would lead to the adoption of digital processes. For example, these digital transformation efforts can address inefficiencies in the logistics and trade sector. It would do so by accelerating the implementation and scaling of digital systems along trade corridors to enable real-time cargo monitoring. In doing so, Namibia would in turn leverage the potential for the digital transformation of the economy.

“The first investment of about US$5 million that we realized is the co-landing of the Google Equiano submarine cable, in partnership with the private company Paratus, also allowing for the sharing of infrastructure,” said Shanapinda.

The Equiano cable landed in Namibia, on 01 July and will provide Namibia with the projected capacity of 4 Terrabytes per second (4,000 Gbps), he said.

“This is the second submarine cable we landed, the first one being the West Africa Cable System that landed in February 2011,” he said, adding that these cables address international connectivity needs and gear Namibia for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

According to Shanapinda, the next part of Telecom’s capital expenditure (CapEx) is to accelerate the rollout of fibre to pass and connect thousands of homes, thereby improving the coverage of the existing 10,676 km national fibre backbone.

“We aim to connect more homes and businesses, with packages that start at 4Mbps and up to 50Mbps.To date we have invested over N$148 million deploying fibre,” he added.

Shanapinda meanwhile said they intend to improve mobile data adoption rates, via their subsidiary Powercom.  In 2021/22 it deployed new and upgraded 3G and 4G mobile sites in rural and urban areas.

The sites include Groot Aub, Omeya Golf Estate, Bergquell, Okahandja, Hosea Kutako Airport, Kappsfarm, Unam Neudam Campus, Luipersdvallei, Veddersdal, Elizabeth Bay, Stampriet (Roots), Otjiwarongo, Otjiwarongo New Hospital, Uukwangula, Eenhana NHE, Eenhana Industrial Onawa, UNAM HP, UNAM Engineering Ekuku WT, Ehenye WT, Mahohoma, Warmquelle, Sesfontein Gunkwe, Gobabis TN, Gmunder Lodge, Onkani Sauyemwa Water Tower, Dama Water Tower, Kupferquelle, Onamishu, Werda Gate, Otjokowares Otjitjekwa, Repeater 1807 and Grootfontein (Omulunga).

“Under our mobile CapEx, we plan to rapidly increase our current population coverage, and quality of service, from rural areas to national roads. We are excited that under the national 5G strategy recently announced by the country’s communications regulator, our sites will be 5G-ready, using the latest standards, to enable real-time cargo monitoring with ubiquitous IoT connectivity,” he said.

However, Shanapinda said in the digital transformation efforts, they continue to face challenges with access to stable and reliable electricity.

“Our Beyond 2023 strategy comes at the right time, to enable Namibia to reach its digital economy growth needs,” he concluded.


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