Industry stakeholders have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on members of the National Assembly, to ensure the passage of Telecom Infrastructure Bill in to law before leaving office this year. They claimed that although the National Critical Infrastructure Bill has been discussed in four previous parliaments, none of them has been able to pass and harmonize the bill for the President’s assent.

The body wants the bill passed due to its significance in national development and its contribution to economic growth and urged the house to focus on it rather than rushing to pass the recent National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Bill, which seeks to automatically convert NITDA from a development agency to a regulatory agency in a sector where there is already a regulator.

The industry stakeholders unanimously denounced the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy’s plan to push the NITDA’s Bill, alleging that it did not represent their interests because it did not include any input from industry stakeholders.

According to Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the telecom industry, which was so important to the growth of Nigeria’s GDP and broadband penetration in 2022, experienced some setbacks due to fiber cuts that hampered internet connectivity. He reported that the industry was also harmed by theft and purposeful destruction of telecom facilities, as well as the constant closure of telecom sites by the majority of governmental organizations.

According to Adebayo, “Passing the Critical National Infrastructure Bill in telecom sector has become necessary because the facilities are for public use and must be protected by law to enable the sector sustain its achievements that have impacted positively on the Nigerian economy as well as on organisations and individuals. The bill has been transmitted long ago to the National Assembly, but it has not for once been presented for hearing. It is important that the current National Assembly members deliberate on the bill and pass it as a matter of urgency before leaving office this year.”

Adebayo further said: “The telecom sector had its challenges in 2022. Telecom operators suffered too many destructions of telecom equipment in 2022, which affected infrastructure rollout across the country. Telecom masts and a lot of fibre optic cables were damaged in 2022. The sector suffered multiple regulations from different tiers of government and government agencies, who used the opportunity to impose multiple taxes and levies on telecom operations in the country. The challenges affected growth in telecom because telecom operators had to contend with the challenges.”

Therefore, he urged the government to start considering the telecom industry’s sustainability and to assure the bill’s swift approval in order to avoid additional difficulties in 2023.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), stated that the Critical National Infrastructure Bill, if passed into law, would address a number of sector-specific issues, including frequent fiber cuts, infrastructure theft and vandalism, network congestion, and community access denial.

In order to protect telecom facilities from theft and vandalism, among other things, the law was also discussed with President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami.

Over the years, telecom operators and industry players have consistently called on the federal government to declare all telecom facilities across the nation as critical national infrastructure. However, their request has never been granted, which has resulted in frequent vandalism of telecom infrastructure across the nation.

Share post:




More like this

Labour Party Leader Asks Court to Nullify Tinubu’s election, and Declare Him Winner

Peter Obi, the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party...

FEC approves $984.7m for NRC Equipment Maintenance

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), has approved 984.7 million...

WAEC Gives Birth to Another Digital Baby

Within the last two years, the West African Examinations...

Foreign Firms Sued Over Alleged Breach of €1.3m Contract

A Nigerian startup firm, Agriconnekt Services, has petitioned the...