All stakeholders should ensure the protection of the basic telecom facilities
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently bemoaned the incessant destruction of telecommunication infrastructure in the country and the significant negative impact it has on the quality of service to the consumers. “The impact of vandalism of infrastructure is felt by all in the quality of services rendered as it results in increasing drop calls, data and internet connectivity disruptions, aborted and undelivered short messaging services (SMS), as well as countless failed calls,” said the NCC executive vice chairman. Over 50,000 cases of major damage to telecom infrastructure and facilities had been reported across the country in the past five years.
This is, by all means, a major source of concern, especially for a country that is striving to catch up with the rest of the world in digitising its economy. The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) of the federal government is aimed at repositioning and diversifying the economy by taking advantage of the opportunities that digital technologies provide. The policy is supposed to help curb our over-dependence on oil and gas as the fulcrum of the economy. And, going by the recently released data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the telecommunications sector has shown potential to act as a catalyst for diversification of the economy.
The contribution of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2022 was 18.44 per cent of which telecoms alone contributed 15 per cent. This is the more reason why the goose that lays the golden egg must be protected through a concerted effort of all the stakeholders. It is indeed unfortunate that at a time the nation is facing serious economic challenges, there are unpatriotic elements hell-bent on sabotaging government efforts and throwing their fellow citizens into hardship. It is time that the authorities took serious measures against these criminals.
We recall that following the growing threat of vandalism of facilities in the sector, the NCC had in 2017 signeda memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The objective was the protection of telecommunication facilities in the country. The regulator has also been in the vanguard of advocacy against the menace of the destruction of the facilities, which includes theft of generators, batteries, and even fuel at Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) as well relentless fibre cuts by both vandals and government officials during road constructions. Sadly, the problem persists.
There is no doubt that the incidents of theft and equipment vandalism are really costing the nation huge sums of money. But more worrisome is that the immediate consequence of this criminality is that life is made more difficult for law abiding citizens. The NCC must continue to cultivate the buy-in of state governments for effective coordination between the various states’ ministries of works and road contractors with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to prevent damage to fibre infrastructures during road construction, rehabilitation, and expansion.
What is particularly worrying is that the security agencies have a long history of tough words that have been of no effect as the criminally minded people within our society get more and more emboldened. It is therefore incumbent on all the critical stakeholders to come up with a solution that will work. But the bottom line remains that we must protect these vital assets of the nation from the grip of criminals. It is in everyone’s overall interest. We call on the host communities to provide assistance by way of real time intelligence and information to the security agencies whenever they notice the criminals at work. They should consider it a patriotic duty to join in the fight against the vandalism of critical national assets like telecoms equipment.
We call on the host communities to provide assistance by way of real time intelligence and information to the security agencies whenever they notice the criminals at work