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Nigeria’s Communication Minister Seeks $2bn to Expand Fiber Optic Cables Across the Country

Nigeria’s Communication Minister Seeks $2bn to Expand Fiber Optic Cables Across the Country

The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, highlighted the need for a substantial investment of $2 billion to expand fiber optic cables nationwide in Nigeria.

Speaking on Channels TV, he stressed that fiber optics were a priority to enhance communication services and that the government aims to substantially increase the existing 35,000 kilometers to reach around 95,000 kilometers of cable coverage.

Tijani emphasized the potential improvement in service quality for telephones and home internet by prioritizing fiber optics. He outlined the financial requirements, estimating that $1.5 to $2 billion would be needed to achieve the 95,000-kilometer target. The Minister aims to secure private funding and partnerships to achieve this goal within the next four years.

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“I understand, as a minister, that if we prioritize fiber optic cables in this country, the quality of service, whether it’s through your normal mobile telephone or the internet service you use at home, is going to go off the roof, and that’s the commitment I’m also making.

“In the next four years, we are going to do everything to increase the kilometers of fiber optic cables in Nigeria. We are about 35, 000 kilometers away, and we need to go to 95,000 kilometres, almost halfway there.

“It’s going to cost roughly $1.5 to $2 billion to wire the whole of Nigeria to reach that 95, 000.

“We hope we can accelerate in the next 6 to 12 months, secure that funding that private companies can tap into—it’s not government money—and hopefully work with serious companies that can lay fiber over the next two to three years.

“We’re hoping that before the first four years of this administration, a significant portion of that 95, 000 kilometres will be covered,” he said.

He further emphasized that within his ministry, in collaboration with the Nigeria Communication Commission, there is a clear recognition of the importance of prioritizing the deployment and enhancement of fiber optics. This strategy is seen as pivotal in elevating the overall quality of communication services within the country.

Fibre optic cables, composed of glass strands for efficient long-distance data transmission, significantly surpass wired cables in bandwidth and data transfer capabilities. They are crucial for global internet, cable TV, and telephone networks.

Additionally, Tijani acknowledged the need to enhance the infrastructure for 5G networks across Nigeria. While some areas have infrastructure to support 5G, many locations lack this support, leading to lower-quality 5G experiences for users.

“The infrastructure that drives 5G is not something that is across the nation. We do in some places.

“So, if you subscribe to 5G and you move into locations where the infrastructure cannot support it, of course, the quality will drop. 5G exists in Nigeria and there are telcos with the license,” the minister said.

Nigeria has continued to grapple with low internet penetration, primarily attributed to substandard fiber optic cable infrastructure. In 2021, the country ranked 82nd globally among 110 nations, the highest in West Africa, according to the 2021 Digital Quality of Life Index, a global study on digital well-being conducted by Surfshark, an Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm. Agneska Sablovskaja, the research lead at Surfshark, cited factors such as the type and age of cabling (copper or fiber-optic), proximity and connection to submarine cables, and the size of a country as common causes of poor internet connectivity.

Since that assessment, little has changed, and internet service providers in Nigeria continue to grapple with the challenge of laying efficient fiber cables to ensure stable internet connectivity.

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