Barely two years after its inception the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has held wide Information and Communication Technology industry consultations to come up with a strategic plan that ensures the effective delivery of its tasks as mandated by the Communications Act No. 8 of 2009 (the Act).
The Act provides for the regulation of telecommunications services and networks, broadcasting, postal services and the use and allocation of radio spectrum, through an independent regulatory authority - CRAN. The Act came into effect on 18 May 2011.
Chief executive officer, Stanley Shanapinda says through the Act, CRAN is mandated to develop and regulate Namibia’s increasingly complex and competitive ICT market, as an independent regulator. “Through this mandate CRAN enforces fair competition through the Act and/or licence conditions. However, we cannot do so in isolation. This is a participatory process with all concerned stakeholders hence the decision to consult the industry,” Shanapinda says.
“CRAN is still in its infancy and has to put the necessary regulatory measures in place to ensure adequate regulation of the sector. Therefore we will continue consulting with all stakeholders as we strive to find ways on how best to protect and entrench fairness in the Namibian ICT industry,” the CRAN CEO adds.
The six key strategic focus areas that CRAN has identified are:
•Market Expansion & Development
•Consumer Advocacy & Protection
•Monitoring, Compliance & Enforcement
Through market expansion and development, CRAN will enable and facilitate an open ICT market, increased entry by new players as well as investment, while at the same time ensuring broader diversity and choice for consumers.
“We have benchmarked our fees within the region and they represent amongst the lowest of fees to ensure market access,” Shanapinda says of CRAN’s proposed fees, which he adds, amount to an average reduction in terms of what was previously charged and streamlines the rates charged for all types of licensees.
Fair Competition is key for the development of Namibia’s ICT industry, hence the need to promote a level playing field and create equitable competition. CRAN will thus ensure equal treatment of all providers of telecommunications and broadcasting services as well as the users of such services.
CRAN must also, by regulation, determine open, non-discriminatory and transparent procedures for the submission and consideration of applications for licences and for the withdrawal and renewal of licences. Through Spectrum Management, the regulatory Authority seeks to ensure the efficient management and use of scarce national resources in the local ICT industry. CRAN will support universal access and service in respect of the convergence of telephony, broadcasting, Internet, broadband and multimedia infrastructure, services and content.
Shanapinda says Consumer Protection is a key function of CRAN and the Regulatory Authority will strive to ensure that consumers receive the full benefits of competitive communications services and that they are protected from exploitation and abuse. A lack of industry compliance with the rules and regulations can render the regulator’s work futile hence CRAN’s resolve to ensure strong, effective monitoring of operator compliance with licence obligations, terms and conditions, and appropriate intervention to remediate non-compliance.
To be able to effectively carry out its mandate, CRAN is developing internal Operating Procedures to guide its conduct of its regulatory responsibilities. These include the development of an effective communication system that will inform and engage internal and external stakeholders and which will be reciprocal, responsive, efficient and accurate.
CRAN will continually develop a highly professional, skilled, motivated and dedicated organisation, Board and staff, with access to appropriate training and career opportunities. Clear lines of authority and roles in CRAN’s final decision making and governance authority are also being put in place. PF