Nigeria to ‘prioritise’ fibre optic network in ICT infrastructure expansion

Out-Law News | 23 Jan 2015 | 12:08 pm | 1 min. read

Nigeria’s broadband fibre optic network is to be considered a priority as the country looks to public-private partnerships (PPP) to expand the country’s existing telecoms infrastructure capacity to meet international standards, according to a new report.

The National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP), approved by Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council, said an estimated $325 billion is needed to expand ICT infrastructure, All Africa reported. The amount represents around 11% of the target for total infrastructure investment over the next 30 years.

The NIIMP is Nigeria's blueprint for accelerated infrastructure development. According to the plan, Nigeria's core infrastructure stock was estimated at only 20% to 25% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013. According to NIIMP, based on re-based GDP figures in 2014 and the country's “economic growth aspirations”, it is estimated that a total investment of about $3 trillion will be required over the next 30 years to build and maintain a world class infrastructure for Nigeria.

According to All Africa, Nigeria’s National Planning Commission minister Abubakar Sulaiman said investment required in the ICT sector “would not be less than $22 billion in the next five years.

However, Sulaiman said increased private sector participation in NIIMP would require stable and transparent government policies, rules and regulations, fiscal and monetary incentives, long term financing mechanisms and strengthened PPP management capacities, which are endorsed by the federal government.

Infrastructure investment expert Akshai Fofaria of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “Although the plans for Nigeria’s economic and infrastructure development look great on paper, it is important to remember that a significant amount of investment is required to turn such plans into reality.”

Fofaria said: “Implementation of the plans set out in the report will no doubt rely on increased private sector participation which in turn will require the government to review its legal, financial and regulatory frameworks in order to attract and encourage private sector participants to invest in the country’s ambitious plans.”

Matthew Willsher, the chief executive officer of Etisalat Nigeria, part of leading Abu Dhabi-based telecoms operator the Etisalat Group, said last year: “Continued demand for mobile connectivity along with increased consumption of data requires reliable and effective networks that are also cost efficient for network operators.”

A joint report published in 2012 by the World Bank and African Development Bank, with support from the African Union, said that, at the start of 2012, Africa’s mobile telephony market was “bigger than either the EU or the US. Some 68,000 kilometres of submarine cable and over 615,000 km of “national backbone networks” had already been laid to boost connectivity across the continent, the report said.