Find Telecommunication expertise in Namibia
Namibia’s telecoms and internet industry has been constantly developing in the first two decades of the new millennium. This is primarily due to the liberalisation of the mobile market and improvements to infrastructure, meaning penetration rates have begun to grow (see infrastructure tab). The most recent figures available suggest that Namibia’s telecoms and internet industry contributes approximately 4.14% of the country’s GDP, with 1350 workers employed (Econstats, 2004 and 2005 respectively).
MTC and Leo are the two mobile providers in the country while Telecom Namibia continues to hold a monopoly over the fixed line market. However, there are plans to open up fixed line services to competition in the future in a similar fashion to the mobile sector. MTC and Leo both provide GSM and 3G, while MTC introduced 4G service in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, in May 2012. The majority of MTC shares are owned by the Government of Namibia, with Portugal Telecom owning 34% (Budde, 2012).
There are six ISPs, with the major players being Africa Online, M-Web Namibia and Telecom Namibia. The latter has entered the internet business by deploying Zhone technologies to provide customers with advanced voice and broadband services.
A lack of international submarine fibre optic cables led to the inflation of prices for international bandwidth until the installation of the WACS cable in 2011/12. In addition, WiMAX and other wireless services are offered in the internet market.
One reason that the industry has not developed as quickly as some of its regional neighbours is because of the regulatory transition from the Namibian Communications Commission to the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia, which delayed the process of privatisation.
ICT training is a vital means to bridge this gap. Examples include TECH/NA!, Namibia’s ICT in Education Initiative, which aims to teach and equip all those who work and participate in Namibia’s schools the important skills needed to bolster the industry. There is also the ICT Centre of Excellence at the University of Namibia and an e-health system in operation. Additionally, a communications initiative, ‘e-Learning Africa 2013’, was staged in Windhoek, bringing together over 300 ICT education and support professionals to give presentations and speeches concerning the telecommunications industry.
According to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14’, there are 72 fixed telephone lines, 1,003 mobile subscriptions, 28 fixed broadband subscriptions and 288 mobile broadband subscriptions per 1,000 people of the population. Figures also suggest that 12.9% of the population are internet users, with an average of 2.4 kbps of international bandwidth per user.
This demonstrates how Namibia is developing its mobile sector, but in relative terms, has a low internet usage rate: it ranks 119 out of 148 countries for internet user percentage. Nevertheless, since fibre optic cables have been established in the country, the amount of those using internet is likely to increase. The penetration rates should quickly follow the once infrastructural development improves further.