Namibia's Minister of ICT and representatives from the country's majority government-owned mobile network operator MTC demonstrated a united front at the opening of the latest connectivity site in Engombe, Oshana region in the country's Uuvudhiya constituency.
The connection of the settlement is part of the N$1.2-billion 081EVERY1 network and infrastructure program and it takes place a month after concerns were raised about the viability of the project as a whole.
ICT Minister Stanley Simataa moved to reassure locals about the practicality of the project after media reports alluded to MTC sacrificing profit to see the project to its end.
Simataa stressed that telecommunications network connectivity is a necessity and network coverage is a crucial wheel that drives social and economic development.
"It is now 28 years post-independence and access to quality network connectivity should no longer be a privilege enjoyed by a small fraction of the population, but an essential service, which all citizens of the republic, both in rural or urban settings should have access to," said Simataa.
Tim Ekandjo, Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer at MTC added, "Customers insights reveal that access to reliable network has become increasingly critical, and this for us presents a huge opportunity. Our plan is to ensure that every customer in this beautiful land has connectivity and access it affordably and at zero installation cost," said Ekandjo.
He added that Namibians are embracing an increasingly digital enabled lifestyle driven by growing smartphone uptake, advanced 3G and 4G networks, and smart, connected homes.
MTC shareholding under review
Amid concern over the government's influence on the MTC's leadership, the company issued a statement late last week announcing that its shareholding is currently under review.
An excerpt from the statement reads: "During May 2004, Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings (NPTH) concluded a deal that saw it hold 100% of the shares in MTC by acquiring the 49% held by Telia Overseas AB and Swedfund International AB. NPTH is 100% owned by the Government of the Republic of Namibia. On 1 September 2006 the sale of 34% of MTC shares to Portugal Telecom (PT) was concluded with the management contract also ceded to PT."
MTC also pointed out that the 081EVERY1 project is an important part of the government's Harambe Prosperity Plan (HPP) which aims to redress imbalances of the past.
"It is as much the public, private and state owned sectors' responsibility, as it is the government's duty to transform," according to the statement.
The 081 Every 1 project was launched in August 2017 with the objective to establish over 524 new network sites by August 2019.