FG, W/Bank in $3bn broadband infrastructure deal

World Bank

The federal government of Nigeria and the World Bank are targeting $3 billion to fund an additional 120,000km of fibre optic cables to leapfrog broadband infrastructure and connectivity in Nigeria.

Minister of Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at a stakeholders’ engagement with the theme “Realising a Nigerian Vision of Broadband for All.”

The Ministry of Communications organised the event in conjunction with the World Bank.

Mr Tijani, who expressed hope that the funds would be raised in the next two or three years, said the project involved private sector stakeholders and would be delivered in the next three years.

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According to him, seeking investments in the nation’s digital backbone has become imperative to facilitate access to the digital space at affordable prices for all Nigerians.

“There is a need for us to invest in that databank. So, it is the kind of thing we call the telecommunications infrastructure, or in some cases, the fibre optic cables. So, there is a cable that helps us make it possible for the internet to happen,” the minister said.

According to him, Nigeria has laid 3,035 km of fibre optic cables. However, 120,000 km of fibre optic cables would be required for Nigerians to have quality and efficient access to the internet and other digital services, irrespective of location. In his remarks, Franz Drees-Gross, the World Bank Regional Director (Infrastructure) West and Central Africa, said the project’s first phase would involve laying 95,000 km of fibre optic cables across Nigeria.

Mr Drees-Gross said it would improve the country’s access and digital services content. He described Nigeria’s digital ecosystem as vibrant, adding that the World Bank was deeply involved and interested in supporting Nigeria to raise the needed funds for the project.

“We plan to set up a digital national broadband fund and roll out about 95,000 kilometres of what we call middle-mile cable. That is the terrestrial cable in the territory of Nigeria to bring broadband to more parts of the country.

“I think Nigeria has about 35,000 kilometres of broadband cable. The idea is to add another 95,000, and what we are discussing with the government is: what is the best way to finance that?” he asked.

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