Thursday, 7 January 2010

Namibia needs a national register

Throughout the world there is a huge amount of resources being spent on research and development which in turn generates vast amounts of information that needs to be managed effectively, and efficiently. The pace of new technologies such as computers, their storage capabilities, and the ability to communicate with one another allows for ever larger quantities of information to be stored and analysed. A national electronic database will allow Namibia to move from a rural based economy to a knowledge based economy and meet its development goals.

Namibia has the aim of creating a successful social market economy. When we look at the recent history after the Second World War, we see the rebuilding of the German economy as one of the economic success stories of the last century. Upon closer examination, the building blocks of the state have included the ability to know the movement of all its residents. For example, when a person moves from one city to another, they have to register themselves at the local “Rathaus” or municipality. When we investigate the ability of the German business to trade with another, and more importantly to provide suppliers credit, we notice the importance of trade registers, both government and privately created.

The creation of a central public register in Namibia would have many benefits for the country. The most important would be the updating of information needed for planning purposes, without having to wait for the ten yearly censuses.

Overview of databases
A database is a collection of data, organised in a computer that allows rapid filtering and sorting of this information. A database is thus an electronic filing system. A Namibian national database will include a collection of varied information about our citizens and businesses. This will allow for a one-stop information base or storage facility for government ministries, State-owned Enterprises, municipalities and local districts. It will also allow access to the business community, both local and internationally, who require any information on Namibia.

A closer look at how information is organised, stored, retrieved and managed in Namibia shows that Namibia as a nation has not strategically made any effort to have a central database system which will function by gathering data from all sectors of the economy and managing the data in such a way that it becomes accessible to all for the purpose of delivering an efficient government and business function.

Benefits of database
The overwhelming benefit is that it will instantly be clear which sector is non-performing, and allow corrective measure to be taken to achieve Vision 2030.

Another benefit is that it can also reduce corruption; ensure greater transparency and good governance. As we begin to benchmark the advanced countries in their development efforts, one thing that has helped their economies is a national database and the lower levels of corruption can be attributed to the institution of a database that is accessible everywhere in their countries. As a result the performance of one's activity becomes a check on one another and there is no doubt that this makes people less corrupt and become more transparent.

In addition, the creation of a national register will mean that the registration of voters will be a continuous process as part of the management of services to our citizens. Thus we will save large amounts of money presently being spent on voters’ registration, as well costly exercises in verification.