CRAN, the year that was

By Heinrich Mihe Gaomab II

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 serve 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, re-evaluated 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 workplace, made mask wearing mandatory and put in place hand sanitising 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 ninth 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 tenderawards. 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.

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.

* Heinrich Mihe Gaomab II is the chairperson of the CRAN Board of Directors