On September 28, 2023, Namibia observed the International Day for Universal Access to Information, with this year’s theme focusing on “The Importance of the Online Space for Access to Information.” In his address to the nation, President Hage G. Geingob underscored the profound significance of this theme, emphasizing the critical role that the internet and digital technologies play in facilitating every Namibian’s fundamental right to access information.
President Geingob commended Namibia’s commitment to transparency and access to information, particularly with the enactment of the Access to Information Act No. 8 of 2022, officially becoming law in December 2022. He highlighted the nation’s investments in infrastructure development, including fibre optic networks, broadband expansion, improved network coverage, and the introduction of e-government services. These initiatives collectively provide citizens with convenient online platforms to access government services and information.
Despite these achievements, President Geingob acknowledged persistent challenges, such as the digital divide and the need to protect digital freedoms, privacy, and security. He called upon all stakeholders to collaborate in fostering a secure, accessible, and inclusive online environment for all Namibians.
The President’s message serves as a timely reminder of the importance of access to information in a democratic society. In our rapidly evolving world, the online space has become an indispensable channel for citizens to exercise their right to information. Namibia’s dedication to this cause is commendable, and it is anticipated that the nation will continue to make strides in ensuring that all Namibians have equitable access to the vast knowledge and resources available online.
Here are some key takeaways from President Geingob’s message:
1. **Fundamental Right:** Access to information is not only a fundamental right but also essential for upholding democratic governance.
2. **Online Space’s Vital Role:** The online space has evolved into an indispensable avenue for citizens to exercise their right to access information.
3. **Namibia’s Commitment:** Namibia has taken significant steps toward transparency and access to information, exemplified by the enactment of the Access to Information Act.
4. **Challenges Persist:** Despite progress, challenges like the digital divide and the need for online security remain pressing issues.
5. **Collaborative Effort:** President Geingob called for collaboration among all stakeholders to create a secure, accessible, and inclusive online environment for all Namibians.
In conclusion, advancing access to information is a collective endeavour. By promoting digital literacy, supporting civil society organizations, and holding governments accountable, we can contribute to a world where every individual has the opportunity to access the information necessary for informed and empowered lives.