The chief executive of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), Emilia Nghikembua, has called for more private sector investment to improve telecom network coverage, particularly 4G, in the country. In a statement following the launch of the watchdog’s Telecommunications Market Report for 2021, which revealed that Namibia’s 4G population coverage stood at 85% last year, the executive stressed improved connectivity is particularly necessary in underserved communities such as the Kunene, Oshikoto, Kavango West, Zambezi, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Hardap regions.

According to the report, only seven of the country’s 14 regions were covered by 4G networks, while the Kunene, Kavango West and Omaheke regions had less than 50% 4G population coverage. It also highlighted that the country continues to suffer from a lack of digital skills and high prices for mobile data and smartphones, as evidenced by the fact that only 66% of the 2.9 million mobile subscriptions at end-2021 accessed mobile data services – up from 61% in 2016. To address these concerns, the CRAN plans to implement measures to promote technological innovation and improve quality of service, including the release of additional spectrum to ensure costs for end users are affordable. Nghikembua revealed the regulator is preparing to issue 5G spectrum in March 2023, which will be accompanied by a consumer awareness campaign to address misconceptions and misinformation about the technology.

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