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FG, World Bank target $3bn to fund broadband infrastructure – Tijani

World Bank

As part of efforts to further drive internet penetration in Nigeria, the Federal Government in conjunction with the World Bank is targeting $3 billion to fund additional 120,000km fibre optic cables.

The Minister of Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, who disclosed this Tuesday in Abuja at a stakeholders’ engagement said the funds would be raised in the next two or three years, said, the project involved stakeholders from the private sector and it would be delivered in the next three years.

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

“We are here with critical stakeholders on how to attract investments and fund our broadband infrastructure.

“I am sure everybody that is listening to me probably understands that now we cannot do without technology on the internet; so, we all need quality access regardless of our location.

“There is a need for us to invest in that database. So, it is the kind of thing that we call the telecommunications infrastructure, or in some cases, we call the fibre optic cables.

“So, there is actually a cable that helps us make it possible for the internet to happen,” the minister said.

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According to him, Nigeria has laid 3,035km fiber optic cables, but 120,000km fiber optic cables would be required for Nigerians to have quality and efficient access to the Internet and other digital services irrespective of their locations.

World Bank Regional Director, (Infrastructure) West and Central Africa, Mr Franz Drees-Gross, said the first phase of the project would involve laying 95,000km fiber optic cables across Nigeria.

Drees-Gross said it would improve access and digital services content in the country.

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 to roll out about 95,000 kilometers 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 kilometers of broadband cable. The idea is to add another 95,000 and what we are discussing with the government the best way to finance that.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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