Association of Submarine Cable Operators of Nigeria (ASCON) is seeking the partnership of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to protect cables, fibre optic cables and other critical infrastructure in the telecom industry.
The lamented the huge cost of fixing submarine cables vandalised by unscrupulous elements, adding that its members spend between $1million and $3million to fix the damages.
Mr Ifeloju Alakija, who led members of the association on a visit to the NCC, said it had become necessary for the regulator to intervene in ensuring that submarine cables are protected from damage and destruction through human industrial activities.
Alakija lamented that over the years, the five operators of submarine cable in the country have been victims of 13 aggressions.
“We are seeking areas of possible collaboration with NCC towards achieving solutions to the challenges within the submarine cable segment of the Telecoms industry.
“We would also be happy to hear your perspectives on some of the key issues regarding the management, operations and protection of submarine cable infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure in Nigeria.
“In Nigeria we have the benefit of having five of such cables landing on our shore and delivering over 40 terabytes of internet traffic capacity. These cables are the SAT3 cable, MainOne cable, Glo1 cable, ACE cable, and WACS cable, landed by Natcom, MainOne, Glo 1, Dolphin Telecom and MTN,” Alakija said.
He said most of the damages were caused by fishing and shipping activities, dredging and trawling among others, while challenges of unapproved new pipeline installations, unguided maintenance of pipelines and revamping of unused old blocks also affect the operations of the sector.
He assured that the association would further partner with other regulators and associations such as Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Petroleum Exchange (NipeX), Shippers Council, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), and Trawlers Association of Nigeria (TAN) to address the challenges facing the sector.
The NCC said the Federal Government and the Commission were taking the issue of infrastructure very seriously to address the challenges as telecom infrastructure remain critical to the socio-economic development and transformation of the country.
Oluwatoyin Asaju, The director of Special Duties, NCC, Oluwatoyin Asaju said the commission would not only partner ASCON, but also fast-track the process and procedures for legislation that would ensure the protection of submarine cables.