Nigeria to Crack Down on Broadband Cable Vandals Amid Telecom Losses


Nigeria is taking decisive action to address the ongoing issue of broadband cable destruction, which has caused significant revenue losses for major telecommunications companies like MTN Nigeria Communications Plc.

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The Ministry of Works, responsible for federal road construction oversight, is finalizing a regulation that will be signed into law as an executive order by President Bola Tinubu. This new regulation aims to criminalize the destruction of broadband fiber cables, targeting those responsible for vandalism that disrupts critical telecom infrastructure.

The move comes in response to repeated complaints from telecom companies about the substantial financial impact of cable vandalism, which not only leads to revenue losses but also disrupts services for consumers. According to sources familiar with the matter, the regulation will enforce stiff penalties on offenders, providing a legal framework to deter and prosecute those responsible for damaging broadband infrastructure.

Telecommunications assets are crucial for supporting Nigeria’s economy across various sectors, making protection against vandalism a top priority. The Association of Telecommunications Companies in Nigeria has long advocated for measures to safeguard telecom investments against criminal elements and vandals.

The Nigerian Communications Commission forecasts that the telecom sector will play an increasingly significant role in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), projecting it to contribute more than a fifth of GDP by the end of 2027. However, ongoing challenges such as operating costs, currency depreciation, and energy price increases have put additional strain on the industry.

The telecom sector incurred substantial costs due to cable repairs and revenue losses from vandalism, estimated at nearly 27 billion naira ($23 million) in the previous year alone. MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa Plc were particularly impacted, as evidenced by documented incidents of fiber cable cuts and service disruptions.

The proposed presidential order to criminalize broadband cable destruction is expected to provide a significant boost to the telecom industry, encouraging further investment and ensuring the protection of critical communication infrastructure. Tony Izuagbe Emoekpere, head of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, expressed anticipation for the president’s order, emphasizing its potential to bolster the industry and safeguard telecom investments against destructive practices.

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