Nigeria Seeks Joint West Africa Regional Protection of Undersea Cables

Leah TwakiMarch 25, 20244 min

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

Undersea Cable Cut is now 90% fixed

In response to recent disruptions caused by undersea cable cuts affecting connectivity across West Africa, Nigeria has called for a unified effort among regional nations to protect shared telecommunications infrastructure and ensure uninterrupted services.

Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), emphasized the need for a coordinated approach during the 21st West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) Annual General Meeting held in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Citing the impact of recent submarine cable cuts that led to nationwide outages on multiple networks in 12 African countries, Maida stressed the importance of securing telecom infrastructure to foster Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and enhance investor confidence in the region.

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

He noted that “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 telecoms 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,” he said.

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

Maida, therefore, 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 and associated infrastructure thereby proactively bolstering resilience through improved disaster response protocols to better insulate ourselves from future disruptions,” Maida added

He advised that the goals of the Working Group would be to strengthen sub-regional infrastructure resilience, promote the diversification of the sub-region’s connectivity, conduct regular capacity assessments, as well as 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 about 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 reelection of Nigeria’s Engr. Yusuf Aliyu Aboki, as Executive Secretary, for a second term in a unanimous vote by the member countries.

The EVC of NCC commended Engr. Aboki for his firm, inclusive and visionary leadership, which saw the successful delivery of WATRA’s 2022 — 2025 Strategic Plan, noting that Nigeria and indeed the sub-region was proud of the milestones he has achieved during his first tenure.

He further advised the WATRA 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.

Leah Twaki

A Chemistry graduate, excels as a social media manager, digital journalist, and content creator with an interdisciplinary skills blend of science and communication.

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