How 2016 shaped technological advancement

By Kelvin Chiringa
December 2016 & January 2017
Prime Business

As Namibia in principle positions itself on the ambitious path to propel the economy towards Industrialisation, the issue of skills shortages and technological deficiency remains unresolved such that Vision 2030 can easily be interpreted as an over ambitious goal.

However, this does not mean to imply that ground is not being created for Namibians to have access to innovation as well as skills that are a prerequisite to the collective conscience which stand poised on a time frame of 14 years ahead of us.
This year alone has seen colossal efforts being invested towards technologically equipping the mass through exposure to research and incentivisation of innovative products which are key to lubricating the visions of economic progress.

Events observed as the year spanned on right up to its consummation serve to authenticate that indeed a collective effort has been at play in order to shape the technological advancement of Namibia.

To begin with the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST)has been committed as per its mandate to bankroll research by Namibian doctoral students as well as innovation.

NCRST’s Innovation Challenge Phase 111 was launched in 2016 with the sole purpose of “providing an opportunity for Namibian Innovators to present solutions to pressing social and national challenges through thinking outside-the-box in order to open the door to new opportunities that challenge the status quo.”

And this call has been met with so much gusto, primarily from the science and technology institution that sees itself given the much needed impetus to unleash creativity into sound solutions that bear the signature of local effort.

Information coming from NCRST has it that a Demola Namibia is in the pipeline and will be designed to facilitate co-creation projects between university students and companies, either locally or internationally while ,”The Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture is exploring ways of how it can extend its support to NCRST to implement Demola Namibia.”

The Ministry of Information Communication Technology stands at the centre, developing sound policies in close collaboration with a Parliamentary Standing Committee on ICT, and this year the Annual ICT Summit was set alive with an extra day having been extended for young innovators to exhibit their creative works.

Hence government’s political will has further made it possible for the old hares not to just go it alone in mapping the way forward for Namibia tech-wise, but has brought the creative and energetic young blood to the fore of decision making.

The political stability itself and sound financial institutions met by the energy of young disruptive minds has created such a wave of innovation that has seen a number of amazing software and hardware being created ready to aid government’s raging battle on the frontiers of poverty eradication.
Government has further expressed its noble commitment to creating a knowledge based economy, a move that has thrown the dice to the great advantage of many innovators and software developers again.

At the inception of 2016, the media reported of Namibia’s first ever national portal created again by young people fed with relevant big data for national consumption in the pursuit of boosting innovation, job creation and ultimately poverty eradication.

At the moment, a campaign is on the move, with the backing of government although a number of state officials are still to grasp the language of open data, and the watch word borders on the unwritten slogan of open data for an open technologically progressing economy.
Despite glitches in the economy and a cut on government spending, the mood of progress and the hunger for change has seen 2016 fast giving a great shape to the technological progress of the nation with particular malls having even free Wi-Fi to the public.

When economic stability shakes its hand with political tranquility, the result is a collective interest in the pursuit to bring massive development and a further interest for students to seriously take studies in tech-related fields just because the conditions are simply right.

The national skills competition was a smashing success, the interest with which it came and left was unrivalled and the exposure it gave to young minds caught in the rapture of the current creative wave was immense.

National Training Authority Chief Executive Officer is on record as having made a clear statement to the effect of how the future rested in the hands of the young minds: “The strategic policy rationale behind the exhibition component of this event is clear – Young Namibians need to make decisions about their future careers in a well-informed and well-thought-through way, linked to their interests, their capacities and their aspirations.

As such, the exposition component is aimed at bringing together on a shared platform, public and private registered training providers, corporate entities and other industry stakeholders to partner the NTA in the promotion of technical and vocational careers; and in countering negative societal perceptions and stereotypes stigmatising technical and vocational training as last-choice education.”