Nigeria Seeks World Bank Support for Massive Fiber Optic Expansion.

19 Jun 2024

The Federal Government of Nigeria, in a strong and collaborative effort with the World Bank, has initiated discussions to explore financing options for deploying an additional 90,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables nationwide. Dr. Bosun Tijani, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, revealed this significant development during the inauguration of Nigeria Week in Washington, D.C., demonstrating the robust partnership between Nigeria and the World Bank in advancing the country's digital infrastructure. This collaborative approach ensures the project's credibility and potential for success.

The Federal Executive Council recently approved the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a legal entity created for a specific purpose, to facilitate this ambitious project. The SPV will be responsible for overseeing the financing, construction, and maintenance of the expanded fiber optic network. The project aims to expand Nigeria's fiber optic network from 35,000 km to 125,000 km. This expansion will position Nigeria as the third-longest terrestrial fiber optic backbone in Africa, following South Africa and Egypt.

As highlighted by Techeconomy, Nigeria's New National Broadband Plan 2025 necessitates an additional 120,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables. While this is a significant undertaking, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has indicated the need for substantial investments in approximately 40,000 additional Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) to support this expansion and achieve the broadband plan's objectives. The government is aware of these challenges and is committed to addressing them through strategic planning, efficient resource allocation, and close collaboration with stakeholders.

Since taking office, Dr. Tijani has been a driving force behind the initiative to enhance broadband penetration in Nigeria. In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), he expressed his unwavering commitment and enthusiasm about the productive discussions held at the World Bank headquarters: "A great kickoff for Nigeria Week today at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. Excellent discussions with the World Bank Global Digital Development team on our digital economy agenda, particularly our plans to build out a 90,000 km fiber optic network." His dedication and leadership are instrumental in advancing Nigeria's digital infrastructure, and the government is fully committed to the success of the project.

Before traveling to Washington, Dr. Tijani held a virtual meeting with World Bank representatives to discuss key areas in digital trade for Nigeria, including preliminary findings and insights from the Digital Trade Policy Gap Analysis.

In addition to boosting broadband penetration, which currently stands at less than 50 percent, Dr. Tijani has been instrumental in developing an artificial intelligence roadmap. Last month, he assembled around 120 researchers to contribute to this initiative, reflecting his commitment to advancing Nigeria's digital economy.

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