World Bank target $3bn to fund broadband infrastructure – Minister

The Federal Government and the World Bank are targeting three billion dollars to fund an additional 120,000km of fiber optic cables to leapfrog broadband infrastructure and connectivity in Nigeria.

The Minister of Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at a stakeholders’ engagement with the theme “Realising a Nigerian Vision of Broadband for All”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organized by the Ministry of Communications in conjunction with the World Bank.

Tijani, who expressed hope that 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 who is listening to me probably understands that now we cannot do without technology on Internet; so, we all need quality access regardless of our location.

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

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

According to him, Nigeria has laid 3,035km of fiber optic cables, but 120,000km of 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.

In his remarks, Mr Franz Drees-Gross, the World Bank Regional Director, (Infrastructure) West and Central Africa, said the first phase of the project would involve laying 95,000km of 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 is what is the best way to finance that?

According to him, Nigeria has a very impressive and vibrant digital ecosystem in Lagos, adding that Nigeria can be the hub for exporting digital services to West Africa.

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