Mobile Week with GSM

August 16, 2009

Nigerian Regulator begins campaign for Fibre without Borders

By Amenawon Osademen
THE Executive Vice   Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Engr Ernest Ndukwe has canvassed for a massive fibre connection for the whole of Africa in order to bring broadband connectivity closer to the people.


Aptly describing the theme of his campaign as “Fibre without Borders (FWB)”, Engr Ndukwe recommended that we should remove geography and barriers and work on a one network facility.

That facility will be a cross-border fibre link that will serve as a major platform that can connect the whole of African countries together.
The regulator who spoke at a world press conference put together in Lagos recently by organisers of the Nigerian Telecom Development Lecture, NITDEL, weighed his submission against recent failure of Sat 3 at the Cotonou end and said that something has to be done very urgently and commitments quickly sealed in order to avert such ugly developments in future.

The failure of Sat 3 on the platform of Suburban Communications brought untold hardship and business losses to big corporate bodies and some government offices, and without redundancy the problem could not be easily resolved.

By way of explaining that his suggestion is easily attainable, Engr Ndukwe explained that while it is true that just a few years ago most phone connections were in the developed world, the reverse is the case today with 60 per cent of new connections coming from Africa. In this respect Africa has become a market bride attracting global investment in the field of Communications.

Although coming into the sector quite late, Africa he said is giving remarkably to the global community. The concept of one network began in Africa and so is the Pre-Paid platform which operators in Africa have elevated to a new level. Pre-Paid is a commercial package that allows the operators to make their money even before the subscriber makes his call.

Looking at what has happened in the past few years; Engr. Ndukwe asked what better way to unite a people other than talking to each other.
Quite interestingly, most African operators are becoming multinationals operating in different countries. This makes it even more possible for a subscriber to use just one phone number in different countries using local rates instead of roaming.

Urging the continent to buy into his Borderless Fibre Campaign, Ndukwe said African countries should work towards strengthening the African Telecommunications Union, ATU, and work on a home-grown initiatives that we can give to the rest of the world.

Fibre without Borders will be one of such home-grown products that will need the collective resolve of the countries in the continent to succeed.  Explaining that one hard lesson from the recent crash of Sat3 is that no country can stand alone in the field of Telecommunications; the regulator insisted that African countries ought to engage in activities that will create redundancy in the industry so that a disruption does not create undue problems for operators and their customers.

According to him: “When an international cable is cut, it’s like a very major artery in the body has been severed. The lesson from the Suburban cable cut is that no country is self sufficient. This is why I am looking for fibre connection across the continent.

There are so many redundancies in the fibre connection between Europe and America. There is a lot of inter dependence that can be done in African countries. The governments should encourage a fibre link.”Engr Ndukwe promised to enlist the support of the various regional grouping and bodies to give bite to his campaign.