The City of Windhoek says residents will massively benefit from the smart city concept once fully operationalised, including access to a faster and cheaper internet service. The City is also looking at capitalising on a fibre optic network by connecting both residents and businesses to automated municipal services, while improving service delivery through smart metering when it comes to the provision of water and electricity. In a statement yesterday, CEO Robert Kahimise said the initiative would also result in public Wi-Fi services, multi-media marketing and CCTV surveillance in conjunction with the security cluster. Kahimise was responding to media reports claiming the City has signed an agreement with Chinese telecom giant Huawei to install an internet network.
“The City is aware of various allegations circulating on social media. We will pronounce ourselves once concrete facts have been obtained,” Kahimise said. “In the meantime, we encourage the public not to speculate and engage in rumour mongering. As a caring city, the best interests of all our stakeholders remain a priority.” Kahimise also denied allegations that the City had entered into a “joint business venture agreement” with Huawei, saying council has not approved any memorandum of understanding nor has it given approval to a 5G project. “Council has never applied for a 5G Spectrum Licence with CRAN,” he said. In its five-year strategic plan that ends in 2022, the City has also prioritised the smart city concept to “restore its ability to govern itself more effectively, focusing on ensuring financial sustainability and initiatives that focus on technological advancement, cleanliness, best practices, vibrancy, green, affordability and innovation”. The city council has been divided on the issue, with opposition councillors questioning the granting of the Telecommunications Service Licence to the City by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Local telecommunications companies such as MTC and Paratus have also questioned the granting of the licence. “It is important to note that the smart city project is aimed at bridging the digital divide that has systematically evolved over the years to such an extent that the majority of our people do not have access to the benefits derived from the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. It is time for our communities to be included and not only a select few using shrewd means to destroy such interventions in their own interests,” he said. According to Kahimise, the City in 2018 requested for proposals in an expression of interest published in local newspapers in which telecommunications services providers were requested to apply as technical service providers to the City’s monetisation project. He said after the process was concluded and the technical service providers selected, a decision was made by council to establish a special purpose vehicle in such a manner that the City would have at least 51% shareholding.
The City this week made headlines for the wrong reasons after Qatari state-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera reported that a City councillor on the ticket of the RDP, Brunhilde Cornelius claimed that she was offered money by a fellow RDP member Nicanor Ndjoze to drop objections against the tentative network deal. Cornelius claimed in an affidavit on 19 June that she was allegedly offered between N$5 and N$6 million by the City’s information and communication technology strategic executive Reckliff Kandjiriomuini to allegedly stop resisting the signing of the agreement between Huawei and the municipality. Cornelius claimed the money was offered to her through Ndjoze who is apparently an acquaintance of Kandjiriomuini. She claimed that if successful, the agreement would allow Huawei to win an exclusive contract to build the 5G-telecommunication network in the capital. Both Ndjoze and Kandjiriomuini have denied offering money to Cornelius.