ICT convergence : impact on Namibian ICT operators
Thesis (MBA) -- Stellenbosch University, 2007.
Today we face a reality where existing power relations concerning economical, political and cultural institutions and forces are changing. It is about more than just the right to use a technology in itself; it is a matter of having, or not having, access to infonnation and knowledge. The use of information and communications technology (lCT) is an important and powerful tool when it comes to distributing and sharing these resources (Bridges.arg, 2006). The unequal distribution of and the differences in the possibility to use rer effectively are often referred to by the term digital divide (DDN, 2006). Does this sound quite pessimistic? However, a change is taking place since all countries on earth from the richest to the poorest are actually increasing their Ier usage. The problem is that the developed countries are using convergence (three separate communication sectors: information technology, telecommunications and broadcasting merging to become a single communication service sector) to escalate their access to and use of ICf at a much higher speed, which in fact widens the digi tal divide instead of shrinking it (Bridges.org, 2006). Today no country can afford to neglect investments in ICf if it wishes to raise its living standards or to prevent it from being left behind as other countries exploits the possibilities of ICf. Why is ICf considered to be an effective tool for bridging the international digita1 divide? On the United Nations Development Programme's website one can read: " .. .ICf is an increasi ngly powerful tool for participating in global markets; promoting political accountability; improving the delivery of basic services; and enhancing local development opportunities" (UNOP, 2003). These aspects can be of great importance for developing countries in their effort to gain economic development and improvements. Furthermore, it is also a question about every human's right to have access to infonnation (Sida, 2004). According to Steve Case (AOL Time Warner, Chainnan of the Board) every decade has some word associated with it. In the 'SOs, it was the PC. In the '90s, it was the Internet. For the rest of this decade, the key word is going to be convergence (Thompson, 2003). In Namibia a digital divide exists between income groups as well as between the country's rural and urban population. Namibia is sti ll far from providing equal access to information, but Namibia is well positioned to deploy ICf to its advantage. Namibia has a functional telecommunication infrastructure, political stability and an attractive economic environment for investors. However. the geographic and social challenges of Namibia require innovative approaches and considerable effort. Competition and convergence will improve the situation. recommended to expand the set of potential drivers and specifically focus on the relation between convergence and economic growth.