Nigeria: Federal Government Advocates Joint Effort to Safeguard Telecommunications Infrastructure Amid Regional Outages

Federal Government Advocates Joint Effort to Safeguard Telecommunications Infrastructure Amid Regional Outages
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The Federal Government has called for collaborative action among West African nations to safeguard shared telecommunications infrastructure following a recent internet outage that affected the region.

During the 21st West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly Annual General Meeting held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Aminu Maida, emphasized the importance of establishing a mechanism to protect the subregion from damage to submarine infrastructure. This call to action was communicated by the Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka, in a statement released on Sunday.

Maida’s message highlighted the urgency prompted by a major internet disruption on March 14th, which impacted West and Central Africa, leading to widespread failures in multiple subsea cables and disruptions in online services, including banking operations. He referred to a report by Cloudflare indicating that six countries, including four West African nations, were still experiencing outages caused by submarine cable cuts.

Securing telecom infrastructure is vital for attracting foreign investment and enhancing investor confidence in the region, emphasized Maida. He stressed that the reliability and resilience of telecommunications networks are crucial factors for investors when evaluating regional opportunities.

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

The goals of the proposed working group include strengthening infrastructure resilience, promoting connectivity diversification, conducting regular capacity assessments, and facilitating the designation of telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure 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 that stimulate investment in telecommunication infrastructure. At the AGM, discussions revolved around enhancing accessible and affordable telecommunication services in the sub-region, improving consumer protection, quality of service, roaming, and conflict resolution.

During the meeting, Engr. Yusuf Aboki of Nigeria was reelected as Executive Secretary for a second term. The NCC Executive Vice Chairman commended Aboki’s leadership and advised him to build on the achievements of his first tenure through stronger partnerships and deeper collaboration to advance the interests of the sub-regional body.

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

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