•Tijani seeks more investments in fibre optic cables to boost telephony services
• Minister seeks Nigeria’s participation in global AI revolution
For improved quality of telephony services across the country, Nigeria needs fresh investments in fibre optics cables of about 95,000km.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, stated this on Monday, during an interview session on TVC.
Reacting to the pains of businesses as a result of poor telephony services, especially the quality Internet offerings, Tijani acknowledged and appreciated the efforts of the telecoms operators, stressing that they are doing a lot to keep the economy running.
According to him, the quality of services has been bad lately as a result of so many things, including vandalisation, theft and the need for more investments.
He informed that while telecoms operators have invested in building Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and laid fibre optics cables, “so many times, these cables are destroyed by those constructing roads or doing other things on the road. Some of the BTS are vandalised by thieves. And this is happening in so many areas in the country. Anytime this is done, it puts pressure on the network, it takes away the backbone that supports the network, so people are moved to another infrastructure, which many times becomes congested and piles pressure on the network, which eventually results in poor services.”
On what the ministry is doing to stem this tide, especially vandalism, Tijani said the ministry is working to ensure the President declares telecoms infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure.
According to him, this means that when it is declared, anyone that tampers illegally with telecoms infrastructure will go to jail. He said this is being done to ensure businesses reliant on Internet/connectivity don’t go down because of poor services.
Recall that The Guardian had reported in September, how non-passage of CNI Bill 15yrs after, threatens Nigeria’s $77 billion telecoms industry, which has exposed infrastructure including BTS, fibre optics, telecoms towers, among others to abuse including vandalism, theft and unnecessary closures by states agents.
The minister also disclosed that they are working to improve investment in that space. He said this is because the more fibre optic cable Nigeria has, the better the quality of service and even 5G will improve.
According to him, Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world with submarine cables, saying that country now has nine in Lagos.
“But to take them from the Lagos shores to other parts of the country, especially the hinterland, we need to lay fibre optics across the country. Freshly, we need about 95,000km of these cables across the country. The private sector has laid about 35,000km thus far. Part of our mandate in this administration is to ensure that we can achieve 70 per cent of the 95,000km fibre soonest. Infact, we shall be monitoring this development almost on a quarterly basis to know how we are moving and as we improve that number, services will improve in the country.
“In the meantime, we are working with telcos to ensure that they do the right thing and once that is done, they will improve customer services among others.”
Meanwhile, Tijani said Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution currently going on across the globe.
He said the Ministry would soon begin AI enlightenment, stressing that the technology cannot be left for later.
“Most of the problems in Africa are wicked problems because they tend to occupy us, talk about poverty, need to improve education, insecurity, among others and as we try to fix all these problems, they tend to change. To fix education, we need to use technology among others. AI comes in here. AI is about gathering data, processing and using it to analyse and have insight for development.
“There is a danger of not being part of the AI movement because that is the next destination as far as technology is concerned. The development around AI is moving faster. It doesn’t matter whether you are from a country in Africa or another part of the world. It is going to affect everybody, so, if we fail to participate now, it will affect all of us. We can wake up in six months time and discover how it has been used to compromise our country. So, as a government, it is our responsibility to ensure we are part of that movement,” he stated.