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National policy changes needed to harness 4IR

2022-08-23  Maihapa Ndjavera

National policy changes needed to harness 4IR

Namibia’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) task force has said the enormous benefits of the 4IR will only be realised with significant national policy changes. 

The eight-member committee was appointed by President Hage Geingob to assist government in harnessing opportunities presented in the fourth industrial revolution.  

The task force was required to, amongst others, conduct a country assessment to determine the readiness of Namibia for the 4IR and make recommendations towards a coherent policy and legislative framework, to harness the full potential presented by technologies.

While presenting their final report to the President yesterday, chairperson of the task force, professor Anicia Peters, said: “There are a lot of issues that need to be tackled. Some of the issues in Namibia are lack of skills, especially advanced digital skills, lack of capital or funds for investment and lack of knowledge about possible applications of the technology.”

Issues raised were also inadequate policy and legal framework in the country, cybersecurity and also that the national data is inadequate and incomplete.

The final report comes after the 4IR task force appointment commenced on 1 July 2021 with the interim report of November 2021 and the Namibia 4IR conference and expo on 7 and 8 June 2022.

Peters outlined some recommendations such as establishing a national data centre.  

“A national data centre is very important. If we can take control and ownership of our own data and produce our own expertise and technology to handle that, it will help Namibia to make many more predictions and data driven decisions,” she explained. Furthermore, Peters noted that there is a need to improve 4IR infrastructure, which includes rural electrification.

The task force further proposed that the country develop and implement a consolidated national consolidated 4IR strategy to provide an overarching direction and multi-sectoral planning.

“Education reform is necessary to close the 4IR skills gap and enhance 4IR human capacity from basic education, vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning. Also prioritise and develop a framework for cybersecurity (cybersecurity be elevated to highest priority for funding, skills and legislation),” she stated.

In another recommendation, they called for acceleration of 4IR infrastructure developments, this is building on ongoing efforts, expand power and ICT network coverage and access, and operationalise a special purpose vehicle (entity) to deliver ICT infrastructure and services.

Geingob commented that despite efforts for economic recovery by government, there are people dragging government behind politically and otherwise: “Unfortunately, political discussions we have are condemning all these efforts as we cannot be deterred by that.”

The final report will be presented today at Cabinet level by the task force for further scrutiny.

2022-08-23  Maihapa Ndjavera

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