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Namibia’s Digital Foreign Policy and Diplomacy (Briefing Paper #3)

Date: 2016
This briefing paper emerged from Diplo's participation in Namibia's Foreign Policy Review Conference (July 2016). In this paper, Dr Katharina E. Höne suggests a three-pronged approach to Namibia's digital foreign policy and diplomacy, and looks at the discourse on information and communications technology (ICT) and development.

She makes five recommendations:

  1. There are notable policy initiatives in Namibia, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, and at the level of the African Union (AU) that have the potential to address the digital divide and promote ICT development.
  2. A three-pronged approach to Namibia’s foreign policy, consisting of internet infrastructure and digital geopolitics, digital policy and internet governance, and digital diplomacy is recommended.
  3. Despite advancements in connectivity via undersea cables, mobile access is the most important factor to connect the unconnected in Namibia and Africa as a whole. Further national infrastructure development and the promotion of greater cross-border connectivity in the region remain crucial infrastructure challenges.
  4. Policies and regulatory frameworks are key in order to fully benefit from ICT possibilities. ICT policy needs to be approached as a cross-sectoral issue and cannot be treated in policy silos. It will be important to ensure a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to manage the digital impact on economic development, security, culture, education, etc.
  5. ICT is crucial for achieving the ambitious SDG agenda. By aligning ICT-related foreign policy explicitly with the sustainable development goals (SDGs), additional momentum can be gained and international cooperation can be fostered.

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