CRAN AND THE HARAMBEE PROSPERITY PLAN (HPP) II – FOCUSING ON THE ICT SECTOR

The Kiswahili word “Harambee” which translates to mean, “Pull together in the same direction”, was selected to call for unity and to encourage Namibians to work towards a common purpose through the enactment of the Harambee Prosperity Plan II. Covering the period 2021-2025, HPP II is a commitment by the Namibian Government to deliver better results and to build a more resilient economy to the benefit of all its citizens. The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) is fully prepared and committed to play its part in making the HPP II activities a priority in planning our short to medium term goals and strategic actions to accelerate national development towards Vision 2030 and prosperity for all.

Established in terms of the Communications Act (No. 8 of 2009), CRAN is an independent regulator that regulates, supervises and promotes the provision of telecommunication services and networks, broadcasting, postal services and the use and allocation of radio spectrum in Namibia.

As such, Pillar 4 of the HPP II which encompasses Infrastructure Development, as a catalyst for economic growth, social progression and a contributor to global competitiveness and investment attraction, falls under CRAN’s mandate. Goal 4, specifies Expanding Coverage for ICT through 3 Activities, namely:

1. Implement ‘Open Access Network’ infrastructure sharing regime in a bid to champion Universal Broadband Access by 2025.

2. Facilitate a safe and robust ICT ecosystem.

3. Attain 95% Digital Television broadcasting network to all Namibian households by 2025.

 

From CRAN’s point of view, the necessary measures have been put in place to support HPP II Pillar 4 as follows:

Activity 1 – Infrastructure Sharing Regulatory Framework

Goal 4 highlights the implementation of the Infrastructure Sharing regulations as a priority. Section 50 of the Communications Act (No 8 of 2009) imposes an obligation on dominant licensees to share infrastructure with other licensees or carriers.

Infrastructure sharing has a number of advantages to the communications market such as:

  • The reduction in investment requirements for infrastructure investments;
  • The promotion of competition;
  • The release of capital for strategic investments and new services;
  • Increase in services and products available to consumers; and
  • The decrease in the barriers to market entry for new players.

CRAN’s Infrastructure Sharing Regulations, introduced in October 2016, satisfies this obligation by creating a regulatory framework for the non-discriminatory and non-exclusive sharing of passive and active telecommunications infrastructure by dominant licensees.

Passive infrastructure sharing refers to the sharing of infrastructure contained in the physical layer of the network such as ducts, poles, buildings, sites, masts, power supply, shelters, buildings, air-conditioning, etc. CRAN’s observation is that dominant licensees have generally welcomed the sharing of passive infrastructure, and no disputes have been declared in this regard. It is worth noting that the infrastructure that can be shared differs between fixed and mobile networks and that passive infrastructure can also be shared between telecommunication and broadcasting networks as well as utilities.

Active infrastructure sharing refers to the sharing of infrastructure contained in the active layer of the network, such as a facility or equipment used in the provision of a telecommunications service including all features, functions and capabilities that are provided by means of such facility or equipment.

Active infrastructure sharing is crucial for open-access sharing to reduce costs to the benefit of consumers and can only happen when a licensee can utilise the same radio network of another operator such as national roaming or a Mobile Victual Network Operator (MVNO).

CRAN has however noted that limited active infrastructure sharing is currently happening in Namibia and most disputes declared by licensees pertain to active infrastructure sharing. A grave concern noted here is that dominant licensees are not willing to implement active sharing, especially with new entrants in the market and CRAN has identified this as a risk to the attainment of Activity 1 of HPP II. To this end, CRAN will formulate a mitigation plan to enforce dominant licensees to comply with the framework on active infrastructure sharing.

In short, CRAN has a regulatory framework for Infrastructure Sharing, it is now a matter of enforcing these regulations to comply with HPP II and for the benefit of consumers.

Activity 2 – Facilitate a safe and robust ICT ecosystem

As we all know, cyber-attacks have become the norm. The Authority, as the regulator of telecommunications service providers, is required to implement provisions and functions in forthcoming legislation to make ICT services more secure, reliable and trusted.

There is currently one Act, the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA), and two Bills, the Cybercrime Bill and the Data Protection Bill, that addresses the issue of a secure ICT network in Namibia.

The ETA provides for a general framework for the promotion of the use of electronic transactions within Namibia by:
– providing for the legal recognition of electronic transactions;
– providing for the admission of electronic evidence;
– providing for consumer protection in electronic commerce; and
– regulating the liability of service providers for actions of their clients;

However, not all parts of the ETA that would mandate CRAN to implement some of the services needed to fully realise digital signature in Namibia, are yet enacted.

The Cybercrime Bill will require the Authority to set up a National Security and Cyber Incidence Response Team (NSCIRT) for computer and/or information systems in Namibia. Its functions would be to endeavour to collect relevant information relating to security and stability, co-ordinate with other bodies to promote security and stability of information systems and to take all necessary steps to facilitate the detection of offences involving the use of information systems, amongst others.

The draft Data Protection Bill (from 2013), on the other hand, seeks to create provisions for the use, processing and collection of personal information in order to protect citizens’ right to privacy.

Thus, in order to facilitate a safe and robust ICT ecosystem in Namibia, there is a need to finalise the instruments that will enable the legislative framework and expedite the creation of the NSCIRT. CRAN is actively participating in the consultation process to ensure that the two bills currently being reviewed will address and consider all issues pertaining to keeping ICT safe from cyber-attacks.

Activity 3 – Attain 95% Digital Television Broadcasting Network to all Namibian Households by 2025

10 years ago, the Government, together with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the Authority, undertook the rather expensive Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) project, a major technological advancement over the previous analogue television technology that existed.

In spite of this advancement, the NBC currently only has an 80% population coverage. Sadly, the roll-out of the DTT coverage was halted in 2015 as the NBC, due to financial constraints, was unable to even provide Set Top Boxes (STB) to their viewers.

The NBC then decided to move to a Direct-to-the-Home (DTH) digital television broadcasting solution which allows NBC, with the aid of satellite broadcasting systems, similar to MultiChoice Namibia, to broadcast its programmes to its viewers in Namibia.

As soon as NBC establishes this DTH satellite distribution network, a 100% geographical and population coverage will be attained. All that the viewer will need is access to electricity, a TV, a satellite decoder and a satellite dish to enjoy the DTH services provided by the NBC. The availability and distribution of these satellite decoders and dishes to its viewer will be NBC’s biggest challenge.

With this DTH technology, the NBC will not need to invest in building towers nor transmitters to achieve a 100% population coverage. Pending funding, the target to achieve 95% population coverage is thus easily attainable by 2025 as envisaged in the HPP II.

The Authority’s role will be to ensure that NBC acquires the necessary spectrum assignments once applied for by the NBC to implement the planned DTH solution.

Conclusion
The Authority plays a very important enabling role in many other pillars and goals in the HPP II. This is especially so when it comes to the implementation of e-Services like e-Governance, e-Learning, e-Health and e-Commerce. From an infrastructural perspective, CRAN has observed important additional ICT challenges in the low ICT literacy and understanding of the relevance of ICT, as well as high import taxes on ICT equipment. Issues which many may believe to be outside the realm of CRAN’s Mandate, but of relevance. There is much to be addressed.

Mrs. Emilia Nghikembua

Chief Executive Officer

CRAN

CELEBRATING CRAN’S MILESTONES – 10 YEARS ON

Established in terms of the Communications Act (No. 8 of 2009), the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) is an independent regulator that regulates, supervises and promotes the provision of telecommunications services and networks, broadcasting, postal services and the use and allocation of radio spectrum in Namibia.

It is not by chance that the Authority has reached a 10-year milestone with a lot to celebrate. CRAN opened its doors with only 5 employees in 2011 and now has a workforce of 63 employees and boasts a mere 2% staff turnover.

Through commitment and determination, by working together, both from within the Authority and with stakeholders, CRAN has seen the results of its Vision Statement “Access, quality and affordability for all”; its Mission Statement “To regulate the ICT and Postal sector for the socio-economic benefit of all Namibians; and Value Statement “Accountability, Passion, Teamwork, Respect and Innovation”, become a reality.

10 years is a relatively short time for an instrumental regulatory body such as CRAN to have substantial and significant milestones to celebrate but CRAN certainly has cause to celebrate. Since its inception, CRAN has issued 58 telecommunications service licenses, 14 Community Broadcasting Service Licences, 1 Signal Distributor and 20 Commercial Broadcasting Service Licences thus providing a wide array of services throughout Namibia. CRAN has also established a firm regulatory framework for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) switchover process and formulated a comprehensive frequency-channelling plan, which other SADC regulators are using as a benchmark. SADC also adopted the Financial Model, developed by CRAN, for costing the Communication Regulator of Southern Africa’s five-year Strategic Plan. The Model was used as a basis for determining annual membership fees for each SADC member country. And most recently, CRAN established the regulatory framework for Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) paving the way forward for radio broadcasting to embrace a digital world.

CRAN reached a milestone when 120% mobile penetration rate in the country was reached. This was achieved by CRAN establishing regulatory frameworks that created an environment that promoted fair competition as can be seen by the termination rates in Namibia that decreased from 1.06c to 0.10c for mobile and fixed operators alike between January 2009 and October 2016. And in accordance with Namibia’s Communications Act, a streamlined-complaints handling system was also implemented to further ensure fair competition and consumer protection in the telecommunications sector.

In addition, CRAN also facilitated the extension and digitising of the ICT infrastructure, and the introduction of the 4th generation (LTE) technology in the country. And with CRAN finalising the regulatory framework on numbering
plan and number portability for Namibia, once implemented, consumers will be able to move from one network to another with ease.

Consumer protection and advocacy is an integral part of CRAN’s mandate. CRAN launched Namibia’s first-ever National Consumer Advocacy and Protection Campaign in May 2013. CRAN has worked and continues to work to ensure that consumers receive the full benefits of competitive electronic communication services and are protected from exploitation or abuse. The Child Online Protection campaign provided information on how, why and what to do in instances where a Child’s rights and security are compromised. The campaign provided information to parents and guardians on how to protect their child from cyber bullying and provided general information on how to keep their child safe when online.

CRAN also issued a directive to all licensees to notify customers, in writing, 30 days prior to a customers’ Subscription Agreement lapsing, of the date upon which contracts are lapsing. The directive further regulated that in the event that an Agreement is not extended, in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement, continuity of service is maintained but is automatically transferred to a Standard Package. The decision was taken to ensure that customers do not pay for services that they are not receiving.

CRAN has undertaken several projects in-line with its mandate.

Campaigns

The Consumer Education Campaign, “OWN it! The Right to Connect’, aimed to empower, inform and engage consumers and sought to create awareness about consumers’ rights, responsibilities and obligations. The “Consumer is King” campaign aimed at creating awareness on consumer complaints procedures, CRAN’s mandate, the Communications Act and educated potential stakeholders on licence application procedures.

Partnerships

Another impactful achievement was the agreement, signed in July 2020, which saw CRAN’s successful conclusion and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) that enables the regulations and governing relationship between the two entities pertaining to all communications on route, during approach, when landing and taking-off of aircrafts in the Namibian skies. CRAN has also concluded a MoU, with the then Department of Customs and Excise, to ensure that all telecommunication devices being imported into the country meet the prescribed minimum quality standards.

Good governance

Likewise, the signing of the Performance and Governance Agreement, in October 2020, between CRAN’s Board of Directors with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), which serves as a tool through which the Government of the Republic of Namibia holds public office bearers accountable, for terms as listed under the agreement, and allows for a continuous maintenance of checks and balances on the affairs of a public entity and brings about an ease in monitoring and evaluating performances of a State-owned entity, showcases CRAN Board Members’ undertaking to proactively account to robust, timely and transparent delivery on its mandate. Over the past 10 years, CRAN has complied with all statutory requirements including submission of annual reports and budgets to the line minister.

CRAN in Education

An important initiative to CRAN has been the growing utilisation of E-learning. The current pandemic has added a strain, on especially educational institutions, to provide access to digital resources to ensure learners are receiving education through online platforms. The year 2020 saw an increase in the demand for accessing information as it became a matter of importance for issues relating to health, education and communication. There has never been a greater need for the ICT sector to create an easier, affordable and quality access to ICT products and services to be the enabler of e-learning, information dissemination and for connecting people who could not meet face-to-face. CRAN has thus committed itself to adjusting its policies and regulations to provide for this need. In the interim, CRAN has initiated various partnerships with institutions of higher learning to build skills and capacity in ICT policy, regulation and management.

Expanding Boundaries

In its mantra of Pushing ICT Forward, in 2015, a new licence category, the Network Facilities Licence was introduced, which allows the licensee to construct, maintain, own and make available one or more network elements, infrastructure or other facilities that facilitated the provision of telecommunication. In the same light, in 2018, CRAN rolled out Regulations for Postal Services, which resulted in the award/issuance of NamPost with a Public Operator Postal Licence which eventually also led to the courier service providers.

Awards

CRAN received two awards in 2017. The first award was for the company that employed the most student interns in the country and was received from the Institute of People Management (IPM) while the second award was the Golden Key Award for being the most open and transparent public institution with universal access to information. This was awarded by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

To conclusion, it is key to note that the Regulatory body has been able to achieve many of its mandates and undertake projects that otherwise might have been impossible through observance to governance by the Board of Directors. This, coupled with sound leadership by the Chief Executive Officer, Emilia Nghikembua, and supported by various heads of departments, has allowed for CRAN to be a success story to date.

Emilia Nghikembua

Chief Executive Officer

CRAN, The Year That Was.

In a world where technology is urging the tides of change forward, Namibia, like all
other countries, has been forced to up its game to ensure that regulations are current,
relevant and serves the needs and expectations of Namibia’s information and
communication technology (ICT) consumers. With this, the Communications
Regulatory Authority of Namibia’s (CRAN) mantra of a high quality, accessible and
affordable communications technological need for all Namibians has become even
more important today.

Amidst the unforeseen, unprecedented and catastrophic Coronavirus pandemic
(COVID-19), Authorities such as CRAN have become increasingly crucial to making
online interactions safe, secure and protected. Much like the rest of Namibia and
around the world, CRAN and its employees were not immune to this virus and as staff
of the CRAN began testing positive for COVID-19, the Authority with urgency, reevaluated
its strategy to ensure the well-being of employees whilst still ensuring that
the needs of ICT consumers and stakeholders were met. In regards to the safety of
employees, CRAN undertook to adhere to the national health protocols in what has
become the new norm of social and work environment requirements. To minimise the
spread and contamination in the workplace, CRAN implemented social distancing at
the work place, made mask wearing mandatory and put in place hand sanitizing
stations to best play its part in preventing the further spread of the pandemic.
Additionally, to further ensure employees’ safety, work-from-home was introduced in
an effort to safeguard our employees.

CRAN, in consultation with Telecommunications Services Licensees, approved two
toll free emergency numbers, 0800 100 100 and 911, for reporting COVID-19
incidences. This initiative was welcomed by Namibians and was well utilised nationally
by members of the public and so proved to be a successful initiative.

In this milestone 9th year of CRAN’s existence, the pandemic set a new course for
CRAN and its business strategy through 2020. The year was filled with unexpected
disruptions, but this did not deter CRAN from making headway on key projects
earmarked for 2020.

Website
One of the topmost priorities CRAN managed to successfully roll out, in what is
becoming this increasingly digital society, was to re-evaluate and revamp its online
website and presence. On the 11th of July 2020, when lockdown had put the majority
of Namibians in “stay at home” situations, as from mid-March 2020, CRAN launched
its revamped website which provided much needed, in-depth and detailed critical
information, news and documents and online consumer protection submission
functionality. The revamped website has been a new basis to allow stakeholders to
engage CRAN, on issues pertaining to cyber protection, Spectrum Licences awarded
to Broadcasters, ICT statistics, tariffs and vacancies, available tenders and tender
awards. The website provides content on CRAN’s history, activities and is informative
on future plans that have made CRAN what it is today and what it wishes to be in the
future. The website is a new and crucial resource for wider outreach to inform, engage
and interact with the public, and provides an understanding of what is required for and
by our stakeholders in terms of the ICT landscape in Namibia.

Memorandum of Understanding
2020 also saw CRAN’s successful conclusion and signing of a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) with the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). This MoU
was agreed upon by legal teams from CRAN and NCAA and enables the regulations
and governing relationship between the two entities pertaining to all communications
on route, during approach, when landing and taking-off of aircrafts in the Namibian
skies. This was a highly necessary and impactful agreement.

Performance and Governance Agreement
Additionally, on 12 October 2020, CRAN’s Board of Directors signed a Performance
and Governance agreement with the Ministry of Information and Communication
Technology (MICT). The agreement serves as a tool through which the Government
of the Republic of Namibia holds public office bearers accountable, for terms as listed
under the agreement, and allows for a continuous maintenance of checks and
balances on the affairs of a public entity. This brings about an ease in monitoring and
evaluating performances of a State-owned entity. With the signing of this agreement,
CRAN Board Members undertook to proactively account to robust, timely and
transparent delivery on its mandate in the best interest of all Namibians.

E-learning
An important initiative to CRAN has been the growing utilisation of E-learning. As one
might assume, the current pandemic has added quite a strain on especially
educational institutions to provide access to digital resources to ensure learners are
receiving education through online platforms. In this momentous year, CRAN was
challenged in doing just that as COVID-19 demanded double the action from CRAN
and all ICT service and product providers. The year 2020 saw an increase in the
demand for accessing information as it became a matter of importance for issues
relating to health, education and communication. There has never been a greater
need for the ICT sector to create an easier, affordable and quality access to ICT
products and services to be the enabler of e-learning, information dissemination and
for connecting people who could not meet face-to-face. CRAN has thus recognised
the need for further development in this field and commits itself to adjusting its policy
and regulations to provide for this need.

Appointment of Chief Executive Officer
In the last month of 2020, CRAN appointed its new Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Emilia
Nghikembua, a long-standing member of CRAN who joined the company in 2011 as
a Legal Advisor. By 2015, she climbed the ranks to Head Legal Advisor until her hard
work and dedicated service was celebrated at new heights on the 10th of December
2020 with her new position. Mrs. Nghikembua was selected as the best candidate for
this position as she possessed the required experience and skills, was dynamic and
would bring new energy necessary in these unprecedented and trying times.

Celebratory Events
CRAN celebrated and raised awareness of important celebratory days that
acknowledged the importance of accessible and affordable information for all. These
included the celebration and raising awareness of World Telecommunications Day,
International Day for Universal Access to information and World Post Day. The
celebration of these awareness days are important as they are an essential element
in providing access to ICT and its sub-sectors namely, postal, telecommunications and
broadcasting. And what better way to promote such days than to disseminate the
message across Namibia on the importance and role of ICT in our daily lives.

As a direct result of the pandemic, organisations all over the world have had to change
how they operate in order to achieve their goals. Companies will have to almost
reinvent themselves through new operating models, capitalising on this malleable
moment and the resulting spread of agile processes, nimbler ways and methods of
working with increased speed and productivity. CRAN’s authority, as mandated and
established in terms of the Communications Act, (No. 8 of 2009), is to provide for the
regulation of telecommunications services and networks, broadcasting, postal
services and the use and allocation of radio spectrum, has as in its vision of access,
quality and affordability for all, a long road ahead to provide for the Namibian people
its promise in these new times.

Moving into 2021, CRAN remains committed to contribute towards Namibia’s
sustainable socio-economic development and will continue to reach out to facilitate
the adoption of technological information to take Namibia into the future. CRAN will
ensure that necessary measures are taken to protect and position itself to be of better
resilience to these challenging times.

We encourage the public to visit our website www.cran.na for a full review of CRAN’s
2020 accolades and to have further insight and information on how the
Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia functions.

Heinrich Mihe Gaomab II
Chairperson
CRAN Board of Directors