Namibia’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) task force has bemoaned imperfect and unreliable data, which it says is one of the biggest challenges they encountered during their first part of the work. The eight-member committee was appointed by President Hage Geingob to assist government in harnessing opportunities presented in the fourth industrial revolution.
While presenting their first report to the President this week, chairperson of the task force, Prof Anicia Peters, said: “Imperfect and incomplete data was one of the biggest issues we faced because the country does not have accurate data which makes our job very hard”.
Peters said this is due to the fact the country has systems residing everywhere, and she lamented the fact the country has different data sources in the private sector and government. In this regard, she outlined some preliminary 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. She said Namibia cannot talk about the 4IR if there is no increase in the pace of rural electrification as many industries are energy intensive.
The chairperson added that there is a need to look at investment policies, strategies and incentives regimes to prioritise information communication technology (ICT).
She said Namibia has to work out strategies on how to make the ICT sector attractive enough, and also localise research and development. “We want to incentivise and work out incentive schemes for multinational companies to move their research and development to Namibia, because in Namibia, there is nothing going on. Some of the things needed for the 4IR are not catered for and we have to find homes for a number of things, thus we recommend also to repurpose the ICT agency to serve the government with hard and soft infrastructure,” she said.
Meanwhile, during a national stakeholder workshop on the development of the National Electrification Policy (NELP) this month, Detlof von Oertzen from VO Consulting, emphasised Namibia’s vision is to provide universal access to electricity by 2040. According to him, to date, an estimated 71% of urban and 19% of rural areas of all households have access to electricity, including off-grid supplies, bringing Namibia’s national electrification rate to approximately 45%.