The Association of Namibian German Alumni (ANGA) held its first conference under the theme “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Opportunities and Challenges for Namibia” from 6-7 December 2019 at the University of Namibia. The conference was funded by the German Embassy through the Science Diplomacy Fund and was attended by around 150 participants representing academia, private sector and the government.
Science and technology need international cooperation
In his remarks, the German Ambassador to Namibia, Herbert Beck, highlighted that Namibia faces challenges of building up competencies in the area of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and at the same time to implement the previous revolution of mechanization, electrification and digitalization nationwide. “Human computer interface, drone traffic management and nanotechnology are buzzwords that will shape the scientific technological future not only in the high-tech countries but also in Namibia. Germany is interested in further intensifying its cooperation with Namibia in this field as well,” he said.
Beck also commended the founders of ANGA for having taken the initiative to start the association. “We know that building and maintaining an active and effective network is one of the key factors for successful work. Therefore, we must have an interest in ensuring that talented men and women, regardless of where they come from and what nationality they have, can fully develop their intellectual and scientific potential. Science and technology are not only areas that are becoming increasingly important in our world but also fields in which cooperation between states and state institutions is expected. I am confident that ANGA will play its part in accomplishing this cause,” he expressed.
“Make Namibia and Africa the hub of digital transformation”
The representative of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Elizabeth Kamutuezu, expressed that there is a need for Namibia to embrace the new technological developments in ways that will promote economic growth, enhance human dignity, protect the environment and advance the agenda of addressing passive poverty and inequality. “With the industrial revolution we can empower our organisations, develop new businesses and new revenue streams until we make Namibia and Africa the hub of digital transformation,” she said.
She however asserted that although technological advancements have given the concept of industrialization a new meaning and created some level of uncertainty in fear of job losses there are equally opportunities to rescue, retrieve and redeploy the workforce. “We should position our economy to take full advantage of such technologies by establishing an environment where everyone is set up to stimulate an innovative economy. Existing business processes need to be reengineered, existing workforce should respond to ten years in the operating environment,” she highlighted.
Namibia has opportunities to benefit from Fourth Industrial Revolution
Professor Frednard Gideon, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of Namibia, contextualised the Fourth Industrial Revolution and highlighted the current and planned initiatives of the University in response to it. ANGA chairperson Rodney Seibeb noted that Namibia had been a mere spectator and a consumer of the previous industrial revolutions as it was not independent. He went on to say that despite the playing field not being level, Namibia as independent country with access to information has the opportunity to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “It is therefore important to have gatherings like these to see how we can position ourselves to benefit and to assess what is in store for the Namibian youth,” he said.
The two-day conference covered aspects of human computer interface, crypto currencies, the usage of drones for traffic management as well as the implications of the fourth industrial revolution on the technical and vocational education and training. A wide array of speakers from the Namibian science and business community introduced the topics followed by engaged questions and discussions by the participants.
ANGA is a voluntary and independent organisation that was established by and for alumni whose studies have been funded through German funding and those who studied in Germany for three months or more. The organisation aims to strengthen academic, professional and cultural cooperation among Namibian, Namibian based and German Alumni. Its objectives are among others to keep a network of Namibian-German alumni, promote academic, professional, business, cultural and personal linkages among members, and promote community based engagement through advocacy and networking and to promote economic, scientific and technical exchange between Namibia and Germany.