Nigeria: Minister Supports Protection of ICT Infrastructure

Computing

The Minister of Communications and Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, has declared support for the calls to make Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in the country, a critical infrastructure protected by law.

The serial vandalism of telecommunications equipment in the industry, characterised by insecurity of infrastructure, incessant fibre cuts, vandalism of base transceiver stations and attack on personnel of telecom companies had led to calls for ICT infrastructure to be protected by the federal government through a law.

Johnson in a chat with ThisDay said, "I am in support of it and as we begin to build infrastructures that are critical to doing business over ICT infrastructures, we have to declare these things critical assets. I do understand the need for internal revenue by the state and local governments. But we need to point out that switching off a base or stealing a generator from a base station is not in the best interest of the entire nation"

She added that the vandalism of telecoms infrastructure not only affected service delivery but affected the government and ultimately the economy.

Johnson also pledged that the newly created ministry would develop appropriate policies necessary to facilitate the roll-out of a ubiquitous and cost effective infrastructure across the country.

On the issue of quality of service, Johnson said the current poor service quality was a case of demand and supply.

She disclosed that the ministry was currently talking with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and service providers on the need for more base stations to be rolled because that is what will impact on quality of service..

She stressed that the Ministry was already looking into the challenges posed by the inability of operators to get permission to roll out base stations. "As you know right now, the process by which the operators get permission to erect a base station is actually much longer than it needs to be. They have given us comparison on what it takes in other parts of the world and clearly, Nigeria is way behind. And that is one of the reason we have quality of service issues. So, we are working with all the government agencies involved in regulating ICT to look at how we can streamline that process and make it a much faster process for them. We are approximately between 10,000 and 15,000 base stations away from what the ideal should be. So we are currently working on how we can de-bottleneck that process and make much smoother".

Nonetheless, Johnson stressed that there should be a minimum level of quality of service demanded from the operators that should not be breached. She added that both the government and the operators were working in tandem to ensure that Nigerians get the best quality of service.