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Nigeria Seeks $3 Billion Investment To Expand Fibre Connectivity



In a bid to bolster its digital infrastructure, Nigeria is embarking on an ambitious plan that requires an estimated investment of $3 billion to extend its fibre connectivity by an additional 85,000 kilometres over the next three years, according to the World Bank.

Speaking at a stakeholder meeting in Abuja, Mr. Franz Drees-Gross, the World Bank Regional Director for Infrastructure in West and Central Africa, highlighted the importance of this initiative in achieving the government’s target of 120,000 kilometres of optic fibre connectivity nationwide. The event, themed “Broadband for All,” convened key players to strategize on funding avenues to realize this vision.

Drees-Gross outlined the Nigerian government’s blueprint, which entails setting up a digital National Broadband Fund and deploying approximately 95,000 kilometres of middle-mile cable infrastructure.

This expansion aims to enhance broadband access across the country, building upon the existing 35,000 kilometres of broadband cable infrastructure.

Discussing financing options, Drees-Gross emphasized leveraging domestic funding mechanisms.

“What we’re discussing with the government is, what’s the best way to finance that. How could you set that up? How could you release some of the funding that’s available in the country using perhaps a Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) and other instruments? And how can the World Bank provide technical assistance and, if needed, perhaps some financing for that,” he said.

The overarching goal is to make digital access ubiquitous and affordable, thereby fostering digital skills development and content creation.

Highlighting Nigeria’s demographic advantage and burgeoning digital landscape, Drees-Gross envisioned the nation as a regional hub for exporting digital services. He underscored the need for broader collaboration across West and Central Africa to harness the full potential of the digital economy.

Affordability emerged as a critical concern, with Drees-Gross pointing to the high cost of data packages and device accessibility as barriers to widespread internet adoption. Addressing these challenges, he stressed the importance of nurturing a robust digital ecosystem that caters to diverse user needs and preferences.

Moreover, Drees-Gross highlighted Nigeria’s potential as a major exporter of optic fibre infrastructure, citing the country’s strategic position with eight submarine cables landing on its shores. By bolstering domestic connectivity and expanding regional networks, Nigeria could tap into new markets and enhance its economic competitiveness.

Echoing the sentiment, Dr. Bosun Tijani, the Minister of Communications Innovations and Digital Economy, emphasized the imperative of stakeholder collaboration to secure investments for the national broadband plan.

Tijani underscored the pivotal role of telecommunications infrastructure, particularly fibre optic cables, in driving inclusive digital access nationwide.

The minister revealed that Nigeria had laid approximately 3,035 kilometres of fibre optic cables to date but stressed the need for extensive expansion to meet growing demand.

With an estimated requirement of 120,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables, he outlined a financial target of $3 billion to bridge the infrastructure gap.

The engagement also saw participation from industry representatives, including Stanley Jegede, Chairman of Phase 3 Telecoms, who lauded the government’s commitment to supporting service providers in reaching underserved areas.

Jegede emphasized the importance of government intervention in facilitating infrastructure expansion to commercially unviable regions.

“So, if the government is supporting like all the governments of focused countries have done to raise either grants, equity, or loans to support the infrastructure directly, we’re excited about it,” he stated.


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