Mr Ibrahim Dikko BCN MD

In this chat with Olusegun Oruame,  IT Edge News, Ibrahim Dikko, Managing Director and CEO of Backbone Connectivity Network (BCN), emphasized the importance of a collaborative ecosystem in the telecommunications industry. Dikko highlighted that no company can thrive in isolation and that partnerships are essential for delivering effective and efficient services to clients. He outlined how BCN’s core services underpin Nigeria’s digital ambitions, significantly contributing to the nation’s GDP and facilitating a range of digital services across various sectors.

As the CEO of Backbone Connectivity Network (BCN), how do you perceive the impact of broadband services in Nigeria’s digital economy and what role does the BCN play in enhancing connectivity across the country, particularly in the north?

Digital economy is underpinned by broadband infrastructure, right. And this is everywhere. When they say the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is underpinned by broadband internet infrastructure so you can’t have a digital economy without the underlying broadband infrastructure. BCN has been creating infrastructure for the past 20 years. We have been visionary in our aspirations to have this critical infrastructure all over Nigeria and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last twenty years. We see ourselves as a key enabler of Nigeria’s digital economy. We’re the largest operator in the north. We have services and deplored infrastructure all over the north. We have also deployed infrastructure in the south. We see us growing to be a national company that supports Nigeria’s aspiration towards moving into a digital economy, right and we are well positioned to play a strong role.

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We are proud of the fact that our core infrastructure and our core services constitute some of the pillars that drive Nigeria’s digital aspirations in a way that has contributed to increase its GDP.  When you deploy support digital infrastructure, the GDP of that area increases. This shows the importance in creating wealth for the society, enabling various digital services in health, education, agriculture. So, we’re part of the journey to improve the wellbeing and the wealth of our country and we look forward to the better part in the future.


Nigeria faces challenges such as Right of Way issues, frequent cases of fiber cuts and infrastructure gaps. How does BCN navigate these challenges to ensure the efficient delivery of network infrastructure services?

The issue of Right of Way (RoW) has been an issue we been have associated with in the rollout of broadband infrastructure for 20 years so we’ve got a considerable experience in both national and sub national levels. Government graciously, at that time, passed the resolution of a national benchmark for RoW charge of N145.00 per linear metre of fibre. We worked with the government stakeholders, especially at the sub national level, we met severally at national forum and also regional governors’ forum, right, in order to advocate the acceptance and adoption by the sub-nationals of  N145 per linear meter. I think that you know, those steps and that advocacy has encouraged a lot of states in Nigeria to either adopt the N145 per linear meter right or even something lower. In the north, we worked with a shareholder of ours, New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC), the investment arm of the Northern Governors Forum under the leadership of Senator Kashim Shettima, now the Vice President of Nigeria to secure the right of way for the whole of 19 northern states. BCN has worked extensively on the issues of right of way.  Willful vandalisation of fiber cables undermine delivery of broadband infrastructure, right. I think that this is really driven by the lack of education by the people that vandalize copper cables. We have been working with a lot of stakeholders including the current Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. ‘Bosun Tijani to further advocate and get cables to be more secured. Tremendous progress has been done.  The Challenge has been that when you lay fiber, you know, we have had several incidents of damages as a result of construction works. To help mitigate some of these challenges, we have been advocating at the ministry, NCC and ATCON levels that a couple of things need to be done. Number one is that when they build some of this road infrastructure, they build ducts so as to help protect some of the telecoms infrastructure being laid in the future. Number two, is that we’ve also partnered with ATCON, the NCC and the Minister of Communications to sensitize the stakeholders across communities around the net effects of vandalizing this infrastructure. We are also working with the Office of the NSA to ensure that this infrastructure is deemed to be critical national asset so those people who willfully damage fiber can face criminal charges for some of these activities.

BCN has always believed in a greater ecosystem in all our activities…. There’s no company that is an island in the telco space. You have to do partnerships and collaborations in order to deliver effective and efficient services to your clients.

What is the BCN doing to address cybersecurity threats and protect its network infrastructure and clients’ data?


Two things are at the heart of this: Trust, trust and trust and the way to get trust is to protect, rights? We have partners from Lithuania, NRD Cyber Security and also who are one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity firms well known for cybersecurity solutions. There is also Sophos.  Our partners not only deploy within the organisation but we also provide solutions for them to deploy to protect their own network. You are only as strong as your weakest link within the entire team, right. So first step is that we absolutely ensure we deploy the best of breed solutions right across our systems to ensure that we are fully secure and we provide this best of breed solutions to our team.

Managed security services (MSS) and unified communication, are growing trends in the telecom industry. How does BCM envision the future of MSS and unified communication in Nigeria?

We already appreciate in those areas for quite a while now that clients are not just about connectivity but also managing internal networks. So we go to clients and see how we can offer more than just connectivity including cloud, right. We are a partner of Microsoft Web to leverage this offering to the benefits of our clients.  Cybersecurity solutions are largely cloud based. We are in the process of setting up our security operation and we also anticipate that in the very near future, right, we’ll also create our own private cloud that will offer service to clients. As you know, a lot of enterprises are moving to the cloud.  We’re supporting them right now. We provide them with the competitive value propositions in terms of the kind of services and solutions that will support them in growing their businesses. This is an integral part and we’ve been on this now for the past five years so we are already an established market presence, and we see this as a future growth area for us.


They say collaboration and partnerships are essential for driving innovation and sustainability in the telecom sector. How does the BCN foster collaboration with government agencies, with industry stakeholders and international partners to improve infrastructure and good services?

BCN has always believed in a greater ecosystem in all our activities.  Whether it is in the delivery of our services, or whether it is in advocacy or whether it’s in partnering, to have solutions or services that are relevant to both our corporate aspirations and even our national aspirations.

At the heart of it, is obviously collaboration and partnership. Right from our inception, we’ve always believed in collaboration and partnerships. This can be seen in our networks. A lot of carriers, ISPs, content providers are on our network to deliver their services. We in turn, also use other partner networks to deliver our services. There’s no company that is an island in the telco space. You have to do partnerships and collaborations in order to deliver effective and efficient services to your clients. In the same way, you know, some of the challenges that we’ve spoken about, if you want to advocate, you must partner with people to advocate. You must have those shared values, and shared vision. So, we’re constantly in search of people who share our values, who share our vision for a digital future for the final frontier, and we’ll collaborate with them to move the needle in a positive manner towards both our national and our corporate and also our societal aspirations.

BCN has been creating infrastructure for the past 20 years. We have been visionary in our aspirations to have this critical infrastructure all over Nigeria and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last twenty years.

We think that one cannot emphasize enough the need for collaboration and partnership to build ecosystems whether it is just from a solution perspective, which is why we always search and get the best of breed solutions. Through those partnerships, we bring them whether they’re local or international, we bring them into the market to support our people. We have such solutions that have been deployed not in Nigeria, but even across Africa, in agriculture, in education, in health and in financial inclusion. For us, these are core areas that not only impact society and lift up performance from a national economic aspiration but are critical to the growth and deployment of digital economy. So, we have brought best of breed solutions into these sectors and we’re working with both national and sub-nationals and also enterprises to build the ecosystem and to deliver these solutions.

Where do you envision BCN to be in the next five years?

Our aspiration is to be the premier digital service provider in Nigeria. Having a national footprint also providing products and solutions that deliver compelling value to drive various clients and various verticals both in the public and private sectors, enterprises and even as a retailer to households. We have seen that Nigeria is at the cusp of transformation with the largest number of undersea cables landing in Africa. We are going to see a new boom in internet penetration and we are proud to be part of all of that journey, a real service-based economy.

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