Nigeria: Government’s Broadband Committee headed by Ndukwe recommends more coastal fibre landing stations

Telecoms

As part of efforts aimed at making Nigeria a leading economy by 2020, the Federal Government may be targeting an 80 per cent growth penetration in Nigeria’s 3G telecommunications services by 2018.

According to the Presidential Committee on Broadband, 3G services are an element of broadband that is an essential infrastructure of the 21st century, which enables access to business and job opportunities, improves healthcare, education and government services, and facilitates social interactions.

Though, the committee said government recognises that it is now imperative that a broadband strategy and roadmap be developed to properly articulate how Nigeria will achieve the targets and aspirations of the broadband policy in the country, it pointed out that the Federal Government should promote the rapid establishment of recovery agreements and the delivery of additional cable landing points to other coastal states such as Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Ondo as soon as possible.

According to the committee headed by former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, the need for additional cable landing points is necessary in Nigeria because already, there are an appreciable number of submarine cables landing on the shores of the country providing over 9 Tbit/s of combined capacity.

“However there is concern about the fact that all the landings are in Lagos and that access to other parts of the country is choked due to the limitations of distribution infrastructure to the rest of the country.

“For National Security and resilience purposes, it is considered critical that these cable companies all have demonstrable recovery and restoration agreements with each other, and that the cable systems are extended to other coastal regions or states. This will help to further accelerate the expansion and distribution of the currently underutilised bandwidth to the rest of the country.”

In terms of a national backbone fibre optic infrastructure, the committee discovered that most long distance carriers have amongst themselves fibre presence in all the 36 states and the FCT, stressing that findings also indicated that while many routes in the country still do not have fibre coverage, there exists a proliferation of fibre along some routes.

Challenges common to operators in the telecoms sector, according to the committee includes the high costs of right of way resulting in the high cost of leasing transmission infrastructure; long delays in the processing of permits; multiple taxation at Federal, state, and local council levels and having to deal with multiple regulatory bodies; damage to existing fibre infrastructure as a result of cable theft, road works and other operations; and the lack of reliable, clean grid electricity supply.

“Governments at various levels have a critical role to play in the drive to have pervasive broadband infrastructure across the nation. Government no doubt has interest in converting the nation into a digital haven that will be fully networked and ready to be integrated into the new world order of digitally enabled citizens in an environment of e-governance, e-health, e-commerce and e-agriculture among others”, the committee stated.

Besides, the committee said the Federal Government’s primary role would also be to focus on policy formulation and direction as well as legal and regulatory functions.