Windhoek, 18 October 2023 – Telecom Namibia has embarked on a quest to engage key Government authorities with the aim to recommend for amendment of the legislation around the prosecution of copper cable theft.
As part of its efforts to keep the shareholder informed of developments within the company, Telecom hosted the Deputy Minister of Finance and Public Enterprises, Hon. Maureen Hinda-Mbuende at its Head Office in Windhoek on Tuesday, 17 October 2023.
Hon. Maureen Hinda-Mbuende expressed shock and dismay at the status of copper cable theft in Namibia and its impact on service delivery in the ICT sector.
The Deputy Minister said operational efficiencies, contributing to the sustainability of public enterprises is important to her Ministry, and in the interest of the Namibian people.
Hon. Hinda-Mbuende said that dealers and people caught with second-hand copper should face severe penalties when they are unable to indicate the source from whom they bought the copper. “The Secondhand Goods Act of 1998 should be reviewed to effectively deal with the issue. Current efforts have not yielded the desired results, and as consequence thereof, this deters Telecom from expanding its network to ensure coverage and uninterrupted services to all parts of the country,” she said.
The Deputy Minister called for stricter laws and empathised that businesses found to be involved in the trading of stolen second-hand copper should be closed down.
The vandalism and theft of copper cables and other ICT infrastructure does not only affect Telecom’s operations. It affects customers and curtails the Government’s efforts to bridge the digital divide and to ensure ICT access to all Namibians across the country.
Funds earmarked for network expansion is redirected to replace stolen infrastructure, and increased network maintenance cost. The company also faces revenue loses, while losing customers due to the frustration of interrupted services. In addition to revenue losses, technical teams are kept busy repairing damaged infrastructure, instead of attending to new installations and fault repairs.
The Deputy Minister reiterated that public awareness needs to be raised as copper cable theft poses a serious threat to service experience and related economic activities, resulting in the disruption of network availability, loss in revenue, customer frustration and increased costs of replacing the lost equipment. The unlawful extraction of copper cables, like the recent case in Keetmanshoop, has a significant impact on communities as it interrupts communication, often for days or weeks. This crime affects development in the country’s ICT sector, which is crucial to Namibia’s economy. Cable theft not only affects economic productivity but can also influence investor perceptions. In most instances, the culprits are released on bail the next day, and these doesn’t commensurate to the revenue lost the company suffers, thus, a serious call for review.
Telecom Namibia CEO, Dr. Stanley Shanapinda said, “Telecom has reported high number of incidents of criminals targeting Telecom Namibia’s infrastructure. This has resulted in downtime for customers and costing the company millions, and directly affects our quality of service and customer experience in the affected areas.”
“Telecom recently launched its five-year Integrated Strategic Business Plan and needs a stable network to realise its revenue goals. The vandalism and theft of telecommunications infrastructure impede these goals,” the CEO said.
“We urge communities to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities or malpractices around the Telecom Namibia infrastructure to the nearest Police Station,” he urged.
With hundreds of kilometres of cable running underground and on poles to provide telecommunication service in Namibia, it is impracticable for Telecom Namibia to always provide security to protect the cables. “We therefore call on all Namibians to exercise patriotism and be a watchdog to safeguard our national telecommunications backbone in their best interest of retaining reliable and efficient communication in the country, especially during a time when voice and internet connectivity is an essential service,” Dr Shanapinda highlighted.
If you suspect that cable theft may be taking place in your neighbourhood, be sure to report such crimes and keep your community connected and safe.
If you see Something, say Something! Call Nampol on 10111 or the Telecom Namibia Customer Contact Centre on 11000.
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Head: Corporate Communication & Public Relations