The Namibian parliamentarians were invited by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) in Namibia, headed by Ms. Natalie Russmann, the country representative of the KAF. The delegation included the Speaker of the National Assembly, Prof. Peter Katjavivi and other lawmakers from the Namibian political parties SWAPO, UDF, LPM and PDM.
As part of an ongoing relationship with the Namibian Parliament, the KAF Namibia office has been organizing and supporting workshops and training measures in the different areas of the parliament over the past few years. The delegation's visit to Germany was based on the dialogue programme initiated by the KAF Namibia to strengthen relationships and share experiences with their counterparts in Germany. The dialogue program mainly addresses the challenges of digitalization, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the role of parliament as a guarantor of democracy.
During their visit to Germany, the delegation met German MPs and members of the German Bundestag serving in the Foreign Affairs Committee, Digital Affairs Committee, Parliamentary Services, Press and Information Office and a special meeting with the President of the German Bundestag. Apart from visiting the University of Erfurt, the delegation also visited the Thuringian State Parliament. The members of the delegation particularly focused on the importance and working methods of the parliament's standing committees, ways of strengthening public interest in parliamentary work and the parliament's press and outreach.
During their visit to the University of Erfurt, the Namibian delegates met the Brandt School representatives to engage in a dialogue on the technological growth and challenges of digitalization. The idea of this dialogue was to draw lessons from the advancements made in digitalization by Germany and analyze these with the Namibian experiences. The delegates were welcomed by the project head for Internationalisation and Digitalisation Dr. Hasnain Bokhari, and Lena Kiesewetter on behalf of the Brandt School. In her opening remarks, Ms. Kiesewetter greeted the honourable delegates by introducing them to the Brandt School as the first school of Public Policy in Germany. The representatives took a keen interest in the Brandt School's approach of acknowledging the importance of North-South cooperation as most students studying at the Brandt School are from the countries in the Global South.
Dr. Hasnain Bokhari gave a detailed presentation on Germany's national digitalization strategy built on the pillars of digital competence, digital society, infrastructural development, modern state and digital transformation. Dr. Bokhari emphasized the role of cybersecurity, particularly in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. He also spoke about the current trends in the field of smart cities and the need for constant evaluation of eGovernment progress with the help of benchmarks and in the light of best practices. Regarding the areas of the gigabit society and digital identities, the delegates were particularly keen to point out the gaps that need to be addressed. Dr. Bokhari also emphasized the importance of parliament particularly with reference to the issues of data protection and hate speech.
During the discussion, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Prof. Katjavivi, warmly acknowledged the visit to the Brandt School. He passionately spoke about former German chancellor Willy Brandt's contribution to peace, democracy and human rights, and his strong support for the self-determination of oppressed people, be it in colonial settings or Europe. He also mentioned his unique and exciting experience of meeting Willy Brandt during the 1970s in Europe. The Senior Programme Manager at the KAF Namibia Office, Dennis Zaire, also gave a detailed account of the infrastructural and technological challenges that Namibia currently faces. Namibia, home to a population of over 2 million, has only a 50% internet penetration rate and regularly struggles with electricity crises hindering digitalization efforts.
Dr. Hasnain Bokhari drew the delegates' attention to the Public Policy programme offered by the Brandt School. The MA Public Policy programme is immensely popular among the early and mid-career civil service professionals from the countries in the Global South.