Following persistent calls by stakeholders in the telecommunications industry for the declaration of telecom facilities as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), President Muhammadu Buhari has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be put in place to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country.
The President’s approval followed a proposal by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami that the Federal Government identifies telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure, with a view to protecting them from vandalization and theft, amongst other things.
DigitalTimesNG recalls that over the years, telecom operators and industry players had consistently demanded that the Federal government declare all telecoms facilities across the country Critical National Infrastructure as operators have suffered frequent vandalisation of their infrastructure in various parts of the country.
Experts believe that the Nigerian telecommunications industry depends on a number of infrastructures that plays a critical role in the smooth delivery of telecoms services, that are part of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) because of the important role they play, in ensuring security and in the delivery of other essential services.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of Critical National Infrastructure to the sustenance of Nigeria’s economy and the security of the nation.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Minister informed telecom stakeholders that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have all been notified of Mr President’s directive.
While especially appreciating and commending the security institutions for the commitment they have demonstrated in securing these infrastructures, Pantami also disclosed that his ministry was also working towards the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments.
“The implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, both unveiled by Mr. President, have repositioned the ICT sector.
“This is evident by the recent ‘Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product Report’ released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07% to the total real GDP in the first quarter of 2020,” the Minister said in the statement.
The statement added that the honourable minister was truly grateful for the timely approval of President Muhammadu Buhari and expressed confidence that this would address the challenge of vandalism of the country’s Critical National Infrastructure.
“It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),” he said.
Pantami urged the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to ensure that they further reduce the price of data and calls for citizens, as this would reciprocate this gesture by the Federal Government.
He also directed the MNOs to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country.