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Nigeria to deploy new 90,000km terrestrial fibre optic backbone

By , Nigeria correspondent
Nigeria , 15 May 2024
Dr Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s comms minister, announced a 90,000km fibre backbone to improve national access (Picture credit: Twitter/X).
Dr Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s comms minister, announced a 90,000km fibre backbone to improve national access (Picture credit: Twitter/X).

The Federal Government of Nigeria is set to launch a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the delivery of an additional 90,000km of fibre optic cable to complement existing infrastructure and increase connectivity across Nigeria.

Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, who announced this in Abuja, said the Federal Executive Council approved the project during its meeting on Tuesday.

The project, he said, would increase Nigeria’s fibre optic cable capacity from 35,000 kilometres to 125,000 km, making it Africa’s third-longest terrestrial fibre optic backbone behind South Africa and Egypt.

An SPV is a separate legal entity created to achieve a specific goal or project. In this context, the SPV will manage the fibre optic project, overseeing its implementation, finances, and operations.

Tijani said the ministry has started work to establish an SPV, following models like Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System and Nigeria LNG Ltd, aiming for efficient governance and operations in Nigeria's Public-Private Partnership setups.

The minister did not specify the SPV's shareholders, registration date, or whether it will have an expiration date.

The minister did, however, outline the benefits that Nigeria and Nigerians will gain from the increased supply of fibre optic cables. He said, “This extensive coverage will enable us to optimise the unique benefit of having eight submarine cables already landed in Nigeria and therefore drive uptake of the data capacity that the cables offer, beyond the current usage level of 10%.

“Building on our existing work with the Broadband Alliance, this increased connectivity will help plug the current non-consumption gap by connecting over 200,000 educational, healthcare and social institutions across Nigeria, ensuring that a larger section of our society can be included in the benefits of internet connectivity.”

He added that the project would also help in increasing internet penetration in Nigeria to over 70% and reduce the cost of access to the internet by over 60%.

Through the project, Tijani said Nigeria would achieve the inclusion of at least 50% of the 33 million Nigerians currently excluded from access to the Internet. It is also expected to deliver up to 1.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) growth per capita, raising GDP from $472.6 billion (2022) to $502 billion over the next four years.

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