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HomeTech NewsNigeria to criminalise Telecoms fibre cable destruction

Nigeria to criminalise Telecoms fibre cable destruction

Nigeria is poised to take a significant step in protecting its telecommunications infrastructure, with plans underway to criminalize the destruction of broadband fibre cables, according to reports from Bloomberg.

This move comes in response to repeated complaints by MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and other telecom companies, who have reported significant financial losses due to vandalism.

The works ministry, responsible for overseeing federal road constructors, is finalizing regulations that will be signed into law as an executive order by President Bola Tinubu. While there are existing laws against vandalism, authorities aim to tighten regulations on construction firms to prevent further damage to vital infrastructure.

The new regulations will impose stiff penalties on offenders, providing much-needed protection for telecom assets, which serve as a critical backbone supporting the country’s economy across various sectors. Temitope Ajayi, a senior presidential aide, emphasized the importance of these regulations in safeguarding telecom investments against vandalism and criminal activities.

The Nigerian Communications Commission projects that the telecom sector will contribute more than a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product by the end of 2027. However, the sector faces challenges such as increased operating costs and revenue losses from damaged cables, estimated at nearly $23 million last year alone. MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa Plc incurred significant costs due to cable damage, highlighting the urgent need for regulatory intervention.

MTN Nigeria, the largest wireless operator in Africa’s most populous nation, reported over 6,000 cuts on its fiber cables last year alone. These incidents resulted in prolonged data and voice outages for customers, underscoring the detrimental impact of vandalism on telecom services. The operator has already invested billions of naira in relocating vulnerable fiber cables, but regulatory support is essential to address this ongoing challenge.

Tony Izuagbe Emoekpere, head of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, expressed optimism about the proposed presidential order, highlighting its potential to boost industry growth and encourage investment. The impending regulations signal Nigeria’s commitment to protecting its telecommunications infrastructure and promoting sustainable development in the digital age.