The Federal Government of Nigeria recently sponsored a bill before the National Assembly which when passed into Law would ensure that Telecoms Infrastructure all around the country is protected and identified as an important national asset. Some of the challenges facing the industry in the country include: Man-made national disasters, criminal vandalism of infrastructure, theft & digging up of cables for sale in the black market or for other purposes, destruction of telecom facilities due to road construction, community interference and oversight functions from other governmental agencies.
In the USA and the EU, Telecommunications infrastructure is covered by Acts because of the important role the ICT industry plays in National Security and the Economy as a whole, which is why this bill before the National Assembly is very important and needs to be signed into Law as soon as possible.
Critical Infrastructure Protection in the USA has been in place since 1996. The Patriot Act of 2001 defines Critical Infrastructure as those systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of these matters. (Wikipedia)
The NCC on its own part has been making use of various avenues such as the Consumer Outreach Programme (COP), Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) as well its most recent project, a TV programme entitled “Telecom Today” to educate Nigerians as well as to create awareness about the dangers associated with vandalism of Telecom infrastructure and this is due to the fact that without these infrastructures there will be no telecom services.
In Nigeria, the systems and structures that make up these infrastructures are often taken for granted to the point that certain state governments and government agencies move in with their agents to shut down BTS sites thereby causing disruptions to network services and in the process affecting Quality of Service (QoS) delivery in areas linked with those masts.
Cases of vandalism by criminals and terrorists as well as denial of access to overhaul or upgrade BTS sites by local residents demanding levies, have had dire consequences on the industry, affecting other sectors like banking & finance, emergency services, air traffic controls and local businesses.
There is no area in the Nigerian society that can be productive or perform optimally without telecoms services either directly or indirectly and it is our duty as Nigerians to protect these infrastructures if this nation is to make progress and compete with first world countries.
The Commission, Ministry of Communication Technology and Telecom Operators are working together to achieve the goal of ensuring the Telecoms Industry is well managed and our telecoms infrastructure remain secure and resilient. The Critical Infrastructure Protection bill when passed into law in Nigeria will recognize Telecoms infrastructure as critical to national and economic security of the country as well as its citizens and this will make the destruction or theft of telecom facilities a criminal offence.