Nigeria plans joint undersea cable protection infrastructure as disruption lingers in 6 countries


The Federal Government Urges West African Nations to Safeguard Shared Telecommunications Infrastructure

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The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Aminu Maida, emphasized the necessity of a collaborative effort among West African nations to protect common telecommunications infrastructure following a recent internet outage affecting the region.

Speaking at the 21st West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly Annual General Meeting held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, over the weekend, Maida underscored the urgency of establishing mechanisms to shield the subregion from damage to submarine infrastructure, as well as its consequential impact.

Referring to a report by Cloudflare, Maida highlighted ongoing outages affecting several West African countries due to submarine cable cuts, emphasizing the importance of securing telecom infrastructure for fostering foreign direct investment and bolstering investor confidence in the sub-region.

Maida proposed the establishment of a framework for joint monitoring, risk mitigation, and emergency response procedures for submarine cables passing through the sub-region. He recommended expanding the mandate of the WATRA Working Group on Infrastructure to develop a comprehensive strategy for safeguarding telecommunications networks.

The objectives of the proposed working group would include enhancing sub-regional infrastructure resilience, promoting connectivity diversification, conducting regular capacity assessments, and designating telecommunications infrastructure as critical national assets in member countries.

The West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly, established in 2002, serves as a platform for national telecommunication regulatory authorities in 16 member states to promote regulations stimulating investment in telecommunication infrastructure.

At the AGM, discussions centered on enhancing accessible and affordable telecommunication services in the sub-region, improving consumer protection, quality of service, roaming, and conflict resolution. Engr. Yusuf Aboki of Nigeria was reelected as Executive Secretary, receiving unanimous support from member countries.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, also announced plans to spearhead global collaboration to enhance the protection of undersea cables. Tijani emphasized the need to review international laws and foster partnerships to ensure the resilience and reliability of undersea cables, vital lifelines in today’s interconnected world.

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