Friday 18 June 2021
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Internet economy should be prioritized as school subject

A report in the Namibian newspaper of Tuesday, 6 August 2019, indicated that many trainees in the Technical and Vocational Education Sector chose to study Office Administration and Introduction to Computers. This is an encouraging development.
It should be supported. The much talked about Fourth Industrial Revolution is driven by the digitalisation of economies. The future of work shall be based the Internet Economy.
Digital computing technologies are changing the way businesses are to be conducted in the future. Future markets shall be dominated by the use of the internet and the World Wide Web.
Namibia should consider prioritizing the teaching of digital computing technologies at school level to all the learners.
The youth training centre at Rietfontein could be turned into ICT centre of excellence. Gifted youth should be selected to enrol at that centre to acquire computer skills ranging from Office Administration to Artificial Intelligence; from Internet of Things to Blockchain.
The Rietfontein Youth Centre should twin with established ICT training institution from friendly countries for professional support and accreditation.
The Centre was built by Chinese Government. It might just be fair to find a Chinese institution to provide professional backstopping to this Centre to offer courses in Digital Computing.
Mr Frank Zachmann of the German Association of Internet Economy told the Namibia Economic Growth Summit 2019 that digital transformation is part of the ecosystem for inclusive growth.
His message, however, seem not to have attracted interest of policy makers.
The Internet Economy has a potential of enabling many young people to participate in the economy through various Internet platforms provided that, they acquire relevant skills and competencies in computing technologies.
Failure to acquire such competencies shall lead to a digital divide. This means that the youth of Africa will miss out on the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Namibia commands a strategic location within the Southern African Sub-Continent.
Namibia is linked to West Africa Cable System. Botswana and Namibia jointly invested in this venture.
Namibia should position itself to be a Digital Hub for Southern Africa.
This could only happen if the country is prepared to invest in the education of its youth and equip them with digital skills. This is an attainable goal.
There might be private entrepreneurs who might wish to put up digital academies focused on say Artificial Intelligence or Internet of Things or data mining.
The National Training Authority ( NTA) should be directed to encourage such initiatives.
Since the nature of work is being changed by the convergence of the digital and physical world, our youth should be educated and skilled into the workings of the new technologies. Namibia should not miss this golden opportunity for its youth.
The future economies are to be characterized by hyper-connectivity.
Hospitals, transport companies and manufacturing firms shall be connected to clients, markets and suppliers through digital computing technologies.
To work in such environment will require different skills.
Digital education is a must for every youth. Namibia cannot afford to miss out in the new economy.
Currently many people are hooked to the social media. They belong to this or that chat groups. They gossip and sometimes they entertain each other.
Social media could play an economic role by linking businesses to markets and to clients. The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could create platforms for information sharing.
In this way Namibia shall gradually benefit from the internet economy. What is important is that Namibia should build up capacity to benefit from such an economy.
Jobs such as driving and other functions which could be performed by artificial intelligence machines shall disappear. Machines shall take over.
With already high levels of unemployment, income inequality and poverty within our country, the Internet Economy may exacerbate the divisions within society along the lines of “have and have nots”.
Or we may witness the Namibian youth joining to Europe migration with all the perils that entail.
Digital education should be given the serious attention it deserves for our youth to be players in the Internet Economy. Namibia should fully embrace the Forth Industrial Revolution and benefit from its potential. Namibia should become a digital hub for Southern Africa. Our communication infrastructure is sound, but under-utilized.
Our geography gives us a comparative advantage to service neighbouring countries.
We need only to build-up the technical capacity to exploit that advantage. Our policy makers should think deeply and craft policies of how Namibia shall benefit from the Internet Economy. As saying goes: “… When the tide rises, all boats are lifted”. The Namibian boat should not be an exception!

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