March 25, 2024

Nigeria seeks joint regional protection of undersea cables

Nigeria seeks joint regional protection of undersea cables

Nigeria has called for a coordinated and multilateral approach by the West African region to jointly protect shared telecommunications infrastructure, and diversify connectivity, to ensure uninterruptible connections.

Dr Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs (DPA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said this in a statement on Sunday, following recent undersea cable cuts that challenged connectivity in the West African region.

Muoka said the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Dr Aminu Maida, said this in a speech delivered at the 21st West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) Annual General Meeting (AGM), held in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

He also said that Maida’s message at WATRA was delivered by NCC’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Nnenna Ukoha.

Maida said that “the recent submarine cable cuts that resulted in nationwide outages on multiple networks affected 12 African countries.

“It had raised the urgent need for the subregion to establish a mechanism to protect itself from damage to submarine infrastructure and its attendant impact on the subregion.

Maida referred to a report by Cloudflare, an IT service management firm, which indicates that about six countries, including four West African countries, still had outages caused by the submarine cable cuts.

“Securing telecom infrastructure is paramount for fostering Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and enhancing investor confidence in the West African sub-region.

“The reliability and resilience of telecommunications networks are crucial factors that investors consider when evaluating regional opportunities.

“By ensuring the security of these vital assets, we can attract more investment, spur economic growth, and enhance our competitiveness on the global stage.

“A secure telecom infrastructure not only facilitates efficient communication and connectivity but also signals a commitment to safeguarding critical assets essential for business operations.

“This assurance can significantly boost investor confidence and create a conducive environment for sustainable economic development.

“The impact of events like cable cuts highlights the need for a coordinated, multilateral approach to protecting shared infrastructure across our member nations.”

Maida also proposed the urgent need to set up a framework for joint monitoring, risk mitigation, and emergency response procedures for the submarine cables that pass through the sub-region.

“Further to this, we recommend that the WATRA Working Group on Infrastructure expand its mandate to spearhead the development of a comprehensive strategy to safeguard the subregion’s telecommunications networks.

“To also safeguard associated infrastructure, thereby proactively bolstering resilience through improved disaster response protocols, to better insulate ourselves from future disruptions.”

He said that the goals of the Working Group would be to strengthen sub-regional infrastructure resilience, promote the diversification of the sub-region’s connectivity, and conduct regular capacity assessments.

The statement explained that the Working Group would facilitate the designation of telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure in member countries.

“The West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly was established in 2002 as a common platform for national telecommunication regulatory authorities in 16 member states.

“To promote the adoption of regulations that stimulate investment in telecommunication infrastructure to deliver more affordable, accessible, faster, and secure communication services to citizens.

“At the 21st WATRA Annual General Meeting, issues pertaining to accessible and affordable telecommunication services in the sub-region were discussed, including improved consumer protection, quality of service, roaming, and conflict resolution for consumers.

“A major highlight of the AGM was the re-election of Nigeria’s Yusuf Aboki as Executive Secretary for a second term in a unanimous vote by the member countries.”

The statement noted that Aboki was commended for his firm, inclusive, and visionary leadership, which saw the successful delivery of WATRA’s 2022–2025 Strategic Plan.

Adding to that, Nigeria and indeed the sub-region were proud of the milestones he achieved during his first tenure.

He further advised WATRA’s Executive Secretary to build on the achievements of his first tenure, through stronger partnerships and deeper collaboration while advancing the interests of the sub-regional body. (NAN)