Friday, 5 August 2016

Economic Empowerment in Namibia - discussions on NEEEF

The Law Reform and Development Commission had a consultative meeting in Windhoek on 4th August 2016.
This is my contribution:
I am a previously disadvantaged person (PDP) as proposed under the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework in the current from of a draft bill. I qualify as such because I was defined as non-white by the apartheid regime. This was not a name I gave to myself.
Some white business leaders act as if this legislation is not needed because after 26 years there is no more discrimination. I say to you that white owned business had 26 years to address the imbalances themselves, BUT, because they have not done so, Government is forced to make laws to address these economic imbalances created by our apartheid past.
We cannot expect the new law to be voluntary. That has been the case for 26 years and look where that got us. We must make mandatory provisions for, -
a. 25% PDP ownership; and
b. 50% PDP Management
for all business having more than 25 employees and/or making a net profit of more than 1 million dollars.
Keep in mind, previously disadvantaged white male business owners: The system of apartheid gave white privilege and this has continued without any willingness for redress from your side.
The Constitution of this country recognised this in Article 23(2) "Nothing ... shall prevent Parliament from enacting legislation providing directly or indirectly for the advancement of persons within Namibia who have been socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged by past discriminatory laws or practices".
As we all know our constitution, you should remember you knew this for the past 26 years. Why did you not prepare yourselves voluntarily?
I am a PDP and want to participate in our economy together with you. Let us make the more money in our company and that will make both of us richer. I do not want to take away what you gained irregularly, but rather address past imbalances so we can both benefit from the opportunities in our country.
Note: if you company cannot find a buyer for 25% shares, make your employees be that PDP shareholder. You, and them, will make more money through employee profit sharing.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The importance of a reliable database

First posted in New Era - 29 June 2016

Imagine waking up one morning and finding out that a relative left you some money you did not know about? Have you had that dream?
The insurance industry in Namibia is estimated to have over 2 billion dollars’ worth of unclaimed monies due to dependants of deceased persons. No accurate figures have been compiled, but industry experts predict that this relates to over 40,000 people who have money that belongs to them, but they do not know about it. The financial industry refers to these “unfound people” as dependants and make efforts, such as newspaper adverts, to find them. However, the longer the period of time has passed since the fund contributor died, the harder it gets to find a dependant.
Namibia has no home delivery postal service and there exists no national database of residential property and their occupants to enable NamPost to do door-to-door deliveries. This lack of residential information has also led to expensive exercises to register bank accounts correctly, under money laundering legislation, as well as higher interest rates charged to clients due to higher perceived risk by the banks.
These questions have laid heavy on the mind of Milton Shanika-Louw, founder of NamBizDotCom since the early 1990’s. He started his career at the Namibia National Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he was tasked with contacting business owners and getting them to become members of the organisation. In the formal, predominantly white-owned, business community this was fairly easy as most were registered with a local or national public organisation. However, the emerging, black-owned, business was largely unknown. For the next ten years, Louw collected business information by visiting each business in all corners of the country to publish the first business directory in Namibia that included street addresses and a sectoral classification of the business.
At the completion of this tough task, he was invited to Germany to learn more about business reporting for Creditreform in Düsseldorf. During this period, Louw came to realise the importance of a centralised citizens databases and the availability of residency information on the consumers in Germany. This capability allows German citizens to be “found” by government and the private sector as well as allowing personal delivery of information at the person’s place of residence.
Upon his return in 2004, he started the Namibia Persons Directory by collecting information from all public places such as local government, electoral registers, newspaper adverts, land evaluation registers, health certificate registers and professional bodies. This led to the publication of a “white pages” directory that included not only name, surname, postal and physical address, but also date of birth and contact telephone number. This database had 250,000 people registered by 2009.
This database exploded to more than 1,4 million records by 2013 when the first commercial product was made available to businesses and government. Unfortunately, most clients did not have the in-house capacity to handle such a large database, or they were confident they could collect their clients’ information through their own business networks.
In 2015, Louw started up his company again with the primary purpose of assisting consumers who were not aware that there was money due to them by the financial services sector. After an update of the consumer data, the database now has over 2 million records of which 950,000 have completed details including name, surname, date of birth, postal and physical address as well as contact number (90% cellular numbers).
The Namibia Consumer Database 2016 is now being marketed at insurance companies, banks, SME’s and government. The cost of the entire database (954,632 records) is N$ 95,000. Because many clients do not have the data mining capability or knowledge, NamBiz also offers training courses to their clients on how to manage and mine this data set.
NamBiz has always kept in mind that most consumers do not have the time or the money to search for money that may or may not be theirs. The company has thus decided to expand their services to include a probate research section. Probate research deals with finding heirs and proving their right to an inheritance. In some estates there may be no known heirs, or there may be missing heirs whose names are known but their contact information is not. In all these instances, professional probate researchers work to trace the next of kin. This service is being marketed primarily at the financial services industry.
Consumers who wish to have the company do research on their behalf may contact Louw on or send an SMS with their name and surname to +264 81 770 6502. Louw can also be contacted directly on +264 81 688 1368.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Why we need black empowerment in Namibia

Let us be blunt. White male privilege was how things were. In 1780, less than 3% of the population (all male) were allowed to vote. By 1832, only one in seven white males had the right to vote. This was because the law stipulated you had to owned land worth ore than ten pounds. Woman older than 30 only got the vote in
This same fight for universal suffrage has continued in Namibia (and South Africa) with non-white males and females only getting the vote at Independence.
Now I hear white males complaining that they are now being discriminated against. REALLY?
The fight for equal rights and equal opportunities while the skewed allocation of the past still exists is something we as a nation have to work towards.
Acting the injured party does not help - the fight has been won and you need to join the rest of us working towards equitable sharing of our resources - even if this means government intervention must be used.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Differential Data Pricing and why consumers should block it in Namibia

MTC has introduced Differential Data Pricing without consulting the regulator or consumers.

Recently the telecommunications industry have seen the mushrooming of over the top (OTT) content providers as a threat to their business model. OTT refers to delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator in the control or distribution of the content - in other words the consumer chooses a data service not provided by the telco service provider.

In South Africa the dominant service providers, (Vodacom and MTN), have instigated a parliamentary debate and are doing their best to introduce hurdles to customers using services such as WhatsApp and Facebook arguing that these services do not pay tax or contribute to the actual infrastructure that customers use.

This debate is however not about services being offered - but rather the threat of losing revenue from voice and SMS.

One of the options being put forward is the use of Differential Data Pricing (DDP) - a process through which telecommunications service providers could or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services offered based on content.

In Namibia, the dominant service provider, MTC, has quietly introduced DDP without consultation with the regulator (Communications Regulator of Namibia) or consumers. The company simply introduced a separation of which data services (and how much of them) can be used within a promotional package and now consumer see a message differentiating how much voice, SMS, WhatsApp and Facebook data they may use.

Consumers must react to this back-door introduction of Differential Data Pricing and insist CRAN as the regulator brings MTC to book.

Why is it important to have an open field of how a consumer uses their data?

  1. Users should be guaranteed equal access to any website they want to visit regardless of how they connect to the Internet. 
  2. Letting Telcos define the nature of access means they and not the user, shape the users Internet experience.
  3. "We can’t  create a two-tier Internet – one for the haves, and one for the have-nots. We must connect everyone to the full potential of the open Web."
  4. In India it was found that, "Had differential pricing been officially legalized, it would have adversely affected startups and content-based smaller companies, who most likely could never manage to pay higher prices to partner with service providers to make their service available for free. This would have paved the way for tech-giants like Facebook to capture the entire market."



Allow me to first state that it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to be involved in the process of tariff determinations and other matters before CRAN as there are no consumer organization receiving funds to assist them in doing work on behalf of the consumer. Most consumer activists are doing the work on behalf of consumers only when the time allows and thus we will find that big corporations will increasingly get away with unfair business practices. Perhaps CRAN should consider the idea of using funds from the Universal Service Fund to assist consumer organisations with their activities.

The Namibia Consumer Protection Group (NCPG) requests CRAN to have public hearings on MTC’S new NETMAN products (NETMAN Turboboost) tariffs as published on 24 December 2015 in the Government Gazette NO. 5908 General Notice 568.

The proposed tariffs are discriminatory in nature and unfairly penalise the lowest income earners and will make the data usage eight times more expensive than for the data charged to the high-end market user.


  • MTC proposes to charge the lowest cost package at N$ 179 per month for 2 gigabyte of data. That means a cost of N$ 89.50 per gigabyte. 
  • The top-end "Unlimited" package costs N$ 999 per month for 90 gigabyte of data. That means a cost of N$ 11.10 per gigabyte.
Data costs are sold at a profit, so assuming the N$ 11.10 per gigabyte is already making a profit, why is MTC making an additional N$ 78.40 per gigabyte off the lowest income earners?

See graph for comparisons of all packages.

The NCPG would like to see this issue being discussed with as many consumers as possible and would request CRAN to allow public debate on the matter.

I thank CRAN for allowing us this extension on comments in this matter.

Kind regards

Milton Louw
Executive Director