Nigeria Calls For Regional Cooperation To Ensure Security Of Submarine Cables In West Africa ๐ŸŽŠ The Scoper Media

By Aminat Umar

Amidst the tumult of recent undersea cable cuts, Nigeria has sounded the clarion call for a unified and strategic approach across West Africa. With connectivity hanging in the balance, Nigeria urges its regional neighbors to forge a collective shield around vital telecommunications infrastructure. Embracing diversity in connectivity is the key to unwavering communication channels, ensuring that interruptions become relics of the past.

Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), took center stage at the 21st West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. With eloquence and conviction, he delivered a statement that resonated throughout the assembly, emphasizing the crucial role of telecommunications in shaping the future of West Africa. Against the backdrop of the vibrant cityscape, his words echoed a vision of connectivity, innovation, and progress for the region. From the 19th to the 22nd of March 2024, minds converged, ideas ignited, and partnerships formed, setting the stage for a new era of telecommunications advancement in West Africa

In a resounding declaration echoing across the halls of the Commission, Reuben Muoka, the Director of Public Affairs, voiced a clarion call to action. Dr. Maida’s impassioned plea, conveyed through the eloquent delivery of Nnenna Ukoha, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, at the esteemed WATRA AGM, resonated deeply. The recent tumultuous waves of submarine cable cuts, casting a shadow of nationwide outages upon multiple networks across 12 African nations, have thrust into sharp relief the dire need for the subregion to forge a bulwark against such peril. The urgency pulsating within the subregion beckons the establishment of a stalwart mechanism to shield its vital submarine infrastructure from harm and mitigate the consequential reverberations echoing throughout the subregion.

In a recent revelation, Maida cited findings from a comprehensive report by Cloudflare, a prominent player in IT service management. The report illuminated the lingering aftermath of submarine cable cuts, plunging approximately six nations into the depths of connectivity crises. Among these nations, four hailed from the vibrant landscapes of West Africa, bearing the brunt of disrupted communications networks. This stark reality further underscores the urgent plea for swift action and robust solutions to mend the digital fabric of these affected regions.

โ€œSecuring telecom infrastructure is paramount for fostering Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and enhancing investor confidence in the West African sub-region. The reliability and resilience of telecommunications networks are crucial factors that investors consider when evaluating regional opportunities.

โ€œBy ensuring the security of these vital assets, we can attract more investment, spur economic growth, and enhance our competitiveness on the global stage. A secure telecoms infrastructure not only facilitates efficient communication and connectivity but also signals a commitment to safeguarding critical assets essential for business operations. This assurance can significantly boost investor confidence and create a conducive environment for sustainable economic development,โ€ he said.

In the same vein, Maida has it that, โ€œthe impact of events like cable cuts highlights the need for a coordinated, multilateral approach to protecting shared infrastructure across our member nations.โ€

Maida therefore, proposed โ€œthe urgent need to set up a framework for joint monitoring, risk mitigation, and emergency response procedures for the submarine cables that pass through the sub-region.

โ€œFurther to this, we recommend that the WATRA Working Group on Infrastructure expand its mandate to spearhead the development of a comprehensive strategy to safeguard the subregionโ€™s telecommunications networks and associated infrastructure thereby proactively bolstering resilience through improved disaster response protocols to better insulate ourselves from future disruptions.โ€

In a chamber adorned with maps and charts, the sage leader laid out the blueprint for the Working Group’s mission: to forge fortresses of resilience within sub-regional infrastructure, weave a tapestry of connectivity through diversification, gauge strength through regular capacity assessments, and champion the sanctity of telecommunications infrastructure as vital national lifelines across member nations.

In the shimmering dawn of 2002, a consortium of telecommunication visionaries forged the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly. This sacred covenant united 16 member states under a singular banner, breathing life into a common platform. Their mission? To cultivate a fertile soil where regulations blossomed into fertile seeds, nurturing investments in telecommunication infrastructure. Their dream? A tapestry of connectivity, weaving together faster, more accessible, and secure communication pathways, painting a vibrant landscape where every citizen could dance to the rhythm of digital delight.

During the 21st WATRA Annual General Meeting, stakeholders delved into the labyrinth of accessible and affordable telecommunication services in the sub-region. Amidst the symphony of discussions, the spotlight shimmered on enhancing consumer protection, fine-tuning service quality, navigating the seas of roaming charges, and crafting a roadmap for seamless conflict resolution to champion the rights of every consumer.

At the heart of the AGM’s proceedings shimmered a resounding triumph: Nigeria’s Engr. Yusuf Aliyu Aboki gracefully reclaimed his position as Executive Secretary for a second term, enveloped in a chorus of unanimous approval from member nations.

Engr. Aboki received high praise from the EVC of NCC for his resolute, inclusive, and forward-thinking leadership style. Under his guidance, WATRA’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan was not just implemented but flourished, showcasing Nigeria’s and the sub-region’s pride in his remarkable achievements throughout his inaugural term.

In a moment of profound counsel, he urged the WATRA Executive Secretary to weave a tapestry of success from the threads of his initial term, fostering robust alliances and fostering deeper bonds in the pursuit of the sub-regional body’s goals.