By Emeka Aginam
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe,Â has advocated the concept ofÂ â€œFibre Without Borders,Â FWBâ€Â as panacea for achievingÂ possible African telecom revolution in terms of seamless telecommunications connectivity, quick,Â and affordable broadband access to the citizenry.
The telecom Engineer who conceptualized this idea during aÂ press conferenceÂ at theÂ National Telecom DevelopmentÂ series in Lagos last weekÂ said the idea of an optics fibre networks crisscrossing the African continent without constraints of geography and politics, is the type of initiativeÂ that would benefit the continent, immeasurably.
â€œIn talking about removing barriers created by geography and politics, I will also advocate encouraging cross border optic fibre links as platform for the next move in Africa and encourage what I call â€œFibre Without Bordersâ€, he said
Ndukwe said he had always had this dream of having an African continent that has optic fibre highways crisscrossing all over the continent without regard to geographical and national boundaries that we all know of today, and even extend that beyond the telecom area toÂ power generation and other areas in order to enable Africa to come together and help each other.
The telecom expert also called for a change of focus for the African Telecommunications Union, ATU, which he said is currently not doing much to achieve the objectives of African connectivity.
â€œWe have an organisation in Africa called Africa telecommunications Union, but quite honestly, that organization is hardly doing anything of significance that anybody can say makes it effective. Africa should work towards strengthening the ATU and changing its focus to actually becoming a home initiative that will go into research that is African based and perhaps, we can give something to the worldâ€, he said.
The NCC boss had earlier told his audience, including the former Information Minister, Chief Alex Akinyele and Ambassador Segun Olusola, that the event is significant because it coincided with the 8th Anniversary of GSM in Nigeria which brought about the revolution as it was on the 8th of August in 2001 that two of the frontline operators made calls in their networks.
He said African has achieved a lot in the area as the continent is no longer a laggard as far as ICT is concerned as manyÂ nations have liberalised andÂ African companies becoming global operators.
He said that Africa is actually giving back something to the world including theÂ concept of â€˜One Networkâ€™ where a subscriber can visit another country without roaming but maintaining service on the same network. He also said that Pay â€“as you â€“ go is a concept that evolved in the continent and has become a practice in other parts of the world.
President Kabbah in his preliminary remarks, also referred the audience to a World Bank report which he considered as critical issues to the continent . The report reinforces the position that reform increases access to voice services, expands Internet access and reduces cost of doing business.
He said thatÂ such reform should engender strengthening regulatory frame works, supporting telecom ministries, promoting competition through pragmatic liberalisationÂ and pragmatic approach to privatisation ofÂ incumbents or government owned telecom operators.
He said the report also talked about building national backbones and supporting broadband access, designing rural access strategies and supporting countries in their post conflict activities.
The former President also referred to the report on the prescription to accelerate regional integration and connectivity through harmonization, increasing regional connectivity, developing regional fibre cable project, and supporting roaming initiatives.