Celebrating CRAN’s milestones-10 years on

Telecommunications services regulator

07 June 2021 | Economics

EMILIA NGHIKEMBUA

Established in terms of the Communications Act (No. 8 of 2009), the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) is an independent regulator that regulates, supervises and promotes the provision of telecommunications services and networks, broadcasting, postal services and the use and allocation of radio spectrum in Namibia.

It is not by chance that the Authority has reached a 10-year milestone with a lot to celebrate. CRAN opened its doors with only 5 employees in 2011 and now has a workforce of 63 employees and boasts a mere 2% staff turnover.

Through commitment and determination, by working together, both from within the Authority and with stakeholders, CRAN has seen the results of its vision statement “Access, quality and affordability for all”. Its mission statement “To regulate the ICT and Postal sector for the socio-economic benefit of all Namibians, and value statement “Accountability, Passion, Teamwork, Respect and Innovation”, become a reality.

10 years is a relatively short time for an instrumental regulatory body such as CRAN to have substantial and significant milestones to celebrate but CRAN certainly has cause to celebrate. Since its inception, CRAN has issued 58 telecommunications service licenses, 14 community broadcasting service licences, 1 signal distributor and 20 commercial broadcasting service licences thus providing a wide array of services throughout Namibia.

SADC

CRAN has also established a firm regulatory framework for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) switchover process and formulated a comprehensive frequency-channelling plan, which other Southern African Development Community (SADC) regulators are using as a benchmark. SADC also adopted the Financial Model, developed by CRAN, for costing the Communication Regulator of Southern Africa’s five-year Strategic Plan. The Model was used as a basis for determining annual membership fees for each SADC member country. And most recently, CRAN established the regulatory framework for Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) paving the way forward for radio broadcasting to embrace a digital world.

CRAN reached a milestone when 120% mobile penetration rate in the country was reached. This was achieved by CRAN establishing regulatory frameworks that created an environment that promoted fair competition as can be seen by the termination rates in Namibia that decreased from 1.06c to 0.10c for mobile and fixed operators alike between January 2009 and October 2016. And in accordance with Namibia’s Communications Act, a streamlined complaint handling system was also implemented to further ensure fair competition and consumer protection in the telecommunications sector.

In addition, CRAN also facilitated the extension and digitising of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, and the introduction of the 4th generation (LTE) technology in the country. With CRAN finalising the regulatory framework on numbering plan and number portability for Namibia, once implemented, consumers will be able to move from one network to another with ease.

Mandate

Consumer protection and advocacy is an integral part of CRAN’s mandate. CRAN launched Namibia’s first-ever National Consumer Advocacy and Protection Campaign in May 2013. CRAN has worked and continues to work to ensure that consumers receive the full benefits of competitive electronic communication services and are protected from exploitation or abuse. The Child Online Protection campaign provided information on how, why and what to do in instances where a Child’s rights and security are compromised. The campaign provided information to parents and guardians on how to protect their child from cyber bullying and provided general information on how to keep their child safe when online.

CRAN also issued a directive to all licensees to notify customers, in writing, 30 days prior to a customers’ Subscription Agreement lapsing, of the date upon which contracts are lapsing. The directive further regulated that in the event that an Agreement is not extended, in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement, continuity of service is maintained but is automatically transferred to a Standard Package. The decision was taken to ensure that customers do not pay for services that they are not receiving.