The number of Internet users by the end of 2017 had reached 4,1 billion users. This means that for the first time, the number of internet users have exceeded the 50% mark of all the people in the world which was estimated at 7,5 billion in August 2017.
The breakdown of the numbers further shows that though the total number of users in Africa is 10.9%, there is only a penetration rate of 35.2% for the continent.
The number of users in Namibia was 797,002 by 30 June 2017 which translates into 31.0% penetration of usage among the population. Though this number seems high, we are still lagging behind the average penetration of users in Africa (35.2%). It is also interesting to note that around 65.2% of Internet users are also users of social media, most notably Facebook.
Affordability is an issue for usage
In 2011, the United Nations (UN) in a report on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expressions, underlined the applicability of international human rights norms and standards on the right to freedom of opinion and expression to the Internet as a communication medium. In other words, the UN declared internet access to be a basic human right on par with clean water, shelter, food and electricity.
Getting online is expensive. For this reason, the Alliance for Affordable Internet is advocating for an affordability target of “1 for 2”— 1GB of data for no more than 2% of income. The cost of 1GB of mobile broadband in Namibia is more than 3.49% of the average monthly income Figures 2016). In Zimbabwe it is nearly 45% of the monthly average income.
Below is a comparative table for countries in SADC where data is available:
Following international studies on working to affordable Internet for all, the Namibia Consumer Protection Group (NCPG), proposes that we:
- · Employ Public Access Solutions to Close the Digital Divide
- · Foster Market Competition Through Smart Policy
- · Implement Innovative Uses of Spectrum through Transparent Policy
- · Take Urgent Action to Promote Infrastructure and Resource Sharing
- · Make Effective Use of Universal Service and Access Funds
- · Ensure Effective Broadband Planning Turns Into Effective Implementation
We dedicate our time and resources to working with the lawmakers, regulatory organisations and non-government organisations to make these a reality in this, the year of reckoning.
Organisations involved in Digital Matters in Namibia
Namibia Consumer Protection Group
The NCPG is a volunteer-based organisation that primarily uses media (print, radio, television and social) to dissemenate information on consumer issues. The primary tool for this community is the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/namibiaconsumer/. There are 1,492 members as at 15 March 2018.
The Internet Society (ISOC) is an American non-profit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet-related standards, education, access, and policy. Its mission is "to promote the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world".
In Namibia, there are 153 ISOC members resident in the country of which 100 are registered to the local ISOC Namibia Chapter.
Internet Governance Forum
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance. It brings together all stakeholders in the Internet governance debate, whether they represent governments, the private sector or civil society, including the technical and academic community, on an equal basis and through an open and inclusive process. It has been hosted by the United Nations since 2006.
A number of regional, national, and youth initiatives hold separate meetings throughout the year and an inter-regional dialogue session at the annual IGF meeting. Namibia held its IGF launch in October 2017.
The main objectives of the Namibia IGF (NamIGF) are to:
- Raise awareness, promote improved understanding and build capacity on internet governance issues amongst Namibian stakeholders and their respective communities.
- Organise and host an annual multistakeholder and democratic platform for engagement and knowledge building on internet governance-related issues in Namibia, and beyond.
- Influence the development and implementation of national policies related to the internet, and broadly, information and communication technology (ICT).
- Facilitate multistakeholder participation by Namibian representatives at continental and global internet governance platforms.
- Contribute to the strengthening of multistakeholder engagement on internet governance in the SADC and African Union (AU).