Nigeria Takes Position In Broadband Revolution, As Undersea Cables Wire Africa

Things are changing fast in Africa’s telecommunications industry: High – capacity undersea cables are being built to wire up Africa, with a new hope of the continent being awash in bandwith. No doubt, this year will end with a record increase of cable projects that will bring more submarine capacity to the continent, with Nigeria as a major beneficiary.

If these planned projects live up to their potential, the West African region will have more than 15,000Gbit/s landing on its shores. These plans were spoken of at a just concluded meeting with the African Development Bank, Reuters Foundation and a group of 20 African journalists, who participated in a media skill development partnership.

The five regions of Africa were represented at the conference by Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Gabon, Burkia Faso, Mozambique, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Others countries involved are Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya.

After a country by country evaluation of the continents telecommunication, it was observed that there is an increase of investment in data services as operators are witnessing a growing demand of data services from their consumers. Participants at this meeting raised a common challenge faced by most operators on the continent as the fact that the backhaul, that connects high speed links to the submarine cables and to the operators access networks (base stations and telephone exchanges) remains a major challenge.

Nigeria was noted to be on the right track with its private sector operations but real revolution would be achieved with more investment in terrestial fibre networks to complement the submarine cables.

Nigeria’s telecommunications sector contributes a major chunk of official economic growth indices recorded in the last 10 years, with over $50 billion worth of investment in infrastructure in the last 10 years. This figure is mainly driven by the private sector players, including MTN, Zain (now Airtel), Globacom, Etisalat and the CDMA operators.

GSM services debuted in Nigeria in 2000 and since then,have gradually moved to 3G platform. The buzz now is fibre optics and submarine cables. Nigeria used to have SAT-3 with a monopolised operation, but now, there is Main one and Glo one, which is a good competition and promises a high benefit potential for the consumers.

This article was culled from The Nigerian Guardian Newspaper

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