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Buhari moves to protect telecommunications infrastructure

Nigeria , 05 Jun 2020

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that telecommunications installations be officially recognised as critical national infrastructure, this as state governors lower costs related to laying fibre optic network infrastructure.

According to the federal Ministry of Communication and the Digital Economy, several federal agencies will coordinate implementation of the directive issued on 2 June 2020.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

Agencies involved include the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA), the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and of the Nigerian Civil Security and Defence Corps (NSCDC).

These institutions have been instructed to take practical steps to protect telecommunications networks deployed across the country, The Ministry added.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said the development “will in no small way provide the needed protection for the infrastructure that has been subjected to vandalisation over the years.”

RoW charges reduced

Several states have reduced Right of Way (RoW) fees linked to the cost of laying fibre optic network infrastructure.

The state government of Ekiti has reduced RoW by approximately 95%, announcing a reduction in price from NGN4500 per metre to NGN150 per metre.

In a statement State Governor Kayode Fayemi, said the aim is to encourage fibre deployment.

“The policy is part of reforms to the state’s business facilitation project,” reads an excerpt from the statement.

The state of Anambra announced it had taken a similar approach in the interests of creating a “robust digital economy”.

Prior to the decision to waive RoW charges, operators were paying NGN600 per metre to the state government.

“We had opened discussion with key stakeholders for zero payment on RoW as directed in 2019 by Governor Willie Obiano to expedite broadband penetration, optimise economic activities and the ease of doing business in the state,” said Barrister Chike Maduekwe, the Chairman/Managing Director of the Anambra State Physical Planning Board.

Reacting to the development, Danbatta commended governors under the umbrella body of the Nigeria Governors' Forum for "the magnanimity in reducing RoW fees".

"The mobile network operators must reciprocate the gesture by making their services, in particular data services, more affordable to Nigerians, ensuring continuous upgrade of their networks' capacities and increasing broadband infrastructure deployment to ease and manage network congestion as well as improve quality of service,” he said.

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