The prime minister’s office has encouraged government offices to embrace and enhance the use of digital technology to enable the work from home strategy and to minimize exposure of employees to the novel coronavirus.
“Offices are further urged to reduce the exchange of hard-copy documents and instead promote the delivery of documents through the available ICT platforms. This may further minimize the exposure to risk of Covid-19 transmission,” reads the Public Service Management Circular No. 19 of 2020.
The information ministry in Oshikoto has rolled out a campaign to sensitise government employees on the need to move towards a paperless office.
Paulina Moses from the ICT ministry believes that as the custodian of ICT in the government, it is the office’s responsibility to enlighten other government employees on the need to limit the use of paper. To eventually become a paperless society, small steps need to be taken and it is essential that the region does so collectively.
This she said can be through simple tasks such as limiting the use of paper for meeting documents such as the agenda or minutes and for officials to rather use their cellphones or laptops to read these documents.
Elisia Muhongo, the chief economist from the industrialisation and trade ministry, believes that completely moving towards a paperless society has its challenges, especially for those who do not have stable internet connection.
Muhongo also believes that Namibia should strengthen its internet safety laws.
“People understand the implications when you steal a confidential file and take it to someone. But with the internet, people are so used to sharing things without consequences. We need strong laws on protection of confidential information and how we can be held accountable,” said Muhongo.
The economist applauded MICT for the initiative and noted that more campaigns are needed to sensitise people of the advantages the country can derive from going paperless.
Albanus Natangue, the centre manager at the sport, youth and national service ministry said that the biggest challenge hindering the progression of digitization and moving towards a paperless office is the mindset of employees.
“Employees are refusing to change. People believe IT is difficult and only for seniors. Words like digitization make junior staff scared,” he said.
Natangue also believes that a paperless office will enhance its service delivery as this will narrow the bureaucracy within government, making reference to the long process it takes for offices to obtain written approval for any activity through writing a submission and at times with four or more signatories.
“The word digitization has epitomized development in recent years. Despite the presence of other developmental challenges, it is essential that Oshikoto as a region maintains momentum towards digitization. We understand that a paperless office can increase its productivity, save money and be friendly to the environment. It is easier, faster and more convenient to share digital documents as opposed to hard-copy. While imperative during the pandemic, it is a long-term strategy that should be embraced,” said Moses.