The Federal Executive Council has authorized a national duct policy to prevent network providers from laying cables across national infrastructures arbitrarily and destroying them in the process.
Isah Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, made the announcement on Wednesday, following a Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House in Abuja.
He described the memo submitted to FEC as the National Duct One Policy, explaining that the policy attempts to institutionalize the provision of ducts during construction in Nigeria, at the federal, state, and even local government levels.
According to him, it is global best practice to provide ducts for road construction, bridges, rail lines, sea ports, and any key building prior to construction, even during the conceptualization design.
“Nowadays, we are confronted with an issue that if we want to install telecommunications infrastructure, in some cities and towns in Nigeria, a lot of damage is done, either to our roads or to our facilities,” he lamented.
“Why? because no provision was made during the design and construction of any duct or pipeline through which the fiber optics and other telecommunication devices would transit. We arranged stakeholder engagement as a result of this, and we gathered all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Works and Housing, together, and we all agreed that there is a need to institutionalize the provision of ducts in design and construction.”
“There are so many benefits to be gained from that,” he continued. For starters, it enables shared infrastructure. Second, it simplifies maintenance and repairs. If that is part of the design and construction, there is no need to damage any roads or important buildings during maintenance. That provision is adequate, and you will have access to all of the facilities in a chamber. We developed this strategy in response to this, and it will continue to reduce the cost of broadband.”
Pantami went on to say that data is quite inexpensive in Nigeria, saying that as of August 2019, according to the official report of the Nigerian Communications Commission, one gigabyte of data cost around N1,200, but currently the average price is N350.
“When you look at it, the reduction is even more than 60%. So by doing so, since laying fiber optics costs a lot of money.
“When we strive to cut the price and the amount being spent in accomplishing that, that is part of the cost of production. As a result, the cost of production will naturally fall, and all of us will benefit from more affordable broadband connection than is currently available.”
“We had several stakeholder interactions; we engaged over 37 government institutions, and now the policy has been adopted,” he says. So by implication, during road construction, bridges, rail lines, seaports, stadiums and all other important buildings, we should make provision for ducts, where at least any wire or any gadget for electricity or telecommunications or any service that is required will make use of that facility and lay their cables.”