‘Smart City’ but lacking basic services

28 May 2020 | Local News

Windhoek • [email protected]
With talks that the City of Windhoek (CoW) is planning to introduce 5G technology to the capital, many residents are still not enjoying even the most basic services like clean running water or electricity.
Albeit not entirely Windhoek-based, according to Energy Pedia, only 53% of Namibians had access to electricity in 2018, while a 2019 report indicates that by 2030, 36% of Namibians will still not have access to modern energy.
Yet, in spite of many residents not having access to electricity, a motion to discuss the City of Windhoek Telecommunications Services Joint Venture has been placed on the agenda of tonight’s (28 May) monthly council meeting.
This comes after a media release two weeks ago in which the City stated that “no roll out of 5G has been approved and no by-law was passed,” a request was put to council to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Huawei Communications and the CoW for a 5G network connectivity in February this year.
While the request was not approved then, it was sent back for further discussion.
These discussions followed a CoW delegation visit to the Smart Chino Expo in Chongqing in August last year, where they were introduced and exposed to the world’s fastest wireless network to date.
Earlier this month the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRAN) said it had awarded the CoW a Class Comprehensive Electronic Communication Network Services (ECNS) and Electronic Communication Services (ECS) License in March, as part of its optic fibre monetization project and Smart City solutions.
At the time, the City said that “the upgrade and expansion of the City’s broadband is aimed at rolling out Smart City Services such as smart water and electricity metering, monitoring of traffic flow in real time, as well as rolling out Wi-Fi to the public.”
No mention was made about the cost of implementing these services or how long the project would take to finalise.
In the same abovementioned media statement dated 15 May, the City gave the assurance that “it will never implement any technology solution or infrastructure that will have a detrimental effect on residents” adding that “the City remains committed to social progression, public safety, with specific emphasis on people and service orientation”.
Despite these progressive statements by the City, a resident who wishes to remain anonymous, says she lives in abject poverty. “Only a handful of Windhoek residents will reap the fruits of these services, while many households in the informal settlements still don’t have access to clean running water or electricity,” she said.
She added that she and her family don’t have toilet in their home in Goreangab and have to walk almost a kilometre to make use of existing facilities. The same can be said for water. “We can’t just open our taps for water, we have to walk. It is upsetting to hear that the City is focusing on other services. How long do we still have to wait?” she wanted to know.

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