Attending the 2021 Africa Symposium on Women and Girls in Technology hosted by the World Wide Web Foundation, I realised again, for Namibia, it is not the gender inequality that will cost Namibia billions of dollars in the future, but it is the lack of access to reliable, affordable, and secure internet and eServices such as Education and Health care – as a basic human right.
It is time that we as a collective stand up and demand our collective basic human rights, the technology exists, the opportunity for change is an everyday reality. Henry Ford said: “If I had to ask people what they want, they would have said faster horses”. It is thus the responsibility of the knowledgeable to challenge the status quo, empower the people and impact the future. Be the change you would like to see now and in the future.
The first-round table should be around what affordable platforms and technology are currently available and how can we make it available to the whole of the citizens in a way that every person has access to affordable connectivity. However, we need to be cognisant that this is only part of the solution, tools and devices need to be provided for learning and eServices to be consumed.
While there are regular complaints on various social media platforms about Namibia’s internet access and the cost thereof, the complaint remains just there, on social media. All the stakeholders, regulators, and governments are not coming together to find a sustainable solution to overcome expensive challenges to ensure economic prosperity and growth.
We have talked about it for so many years, yet here we are, still talking about it with nothing to show. I remember a conversation with colleagues in 2002 about containers being converted into smart classrooms that can be made available to rural areas for education, in 2016 we spoke about converting vans into smart clinics that can bring the doctor to the village doorstep. These are still not a reality in Namibia, we will probably still talk about it in 2050. We need a tangible plan, we need actionable tasks, we need ownership and accountability, and we need it now!