In response to repeated complaints from major telecommunications companies, including Airtel Nigeria, Globacom, and MTN Nigeria, Nigeria is considering criminalizing the destruction of broadband fiber cables. The move aims to address significant annual losses incurred by these companies, amounting to billions of naira.

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According to a report by Bloomberg, the Nigerian government, through the works ministry overseeing federal road constructors, is finalizing regulations that will be signed into law as an executive order by President Bola Tinubu. While existing laws already prohibit vandalism, the authorities seek to tighten regulations on construction firms, who are often implicated in cable damage incidents. The new executive order is expected to impose severe penalties on offenders.

Temitope Ajayi, a senior presidential aide, emphasized the critical role of telecom assets as the backbone supporting the economy across various sectors. He noted that the Association of Telecommunications Companies (ATCON) has long advocated for the criminalization of cable destruction. The forthcoming regulations aim to reassure telecommunications companies that the Nigerian government will protect their investments from vandals and criminal elements.

The Nigerian Communications Commission projects that the telecom sector will contribute more than a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product by the end of 2027. However, the sector faces challenges such as increased operating costs and sales pressures due to currency depreciation and rising energy prices.


Documents seen by Bloomberg reveal that repairs and revenue losses from damaged cables amounted to nearly N27 billion ($23 million) last year alone. MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa Plc incurred significant costs as a result of cable damage incidents.

MTN Nigeria, the largest wireless operator in Nigeria, reported over 6,000 cuts on its fiber cables last year. These incidents, including cuts by road construction firms and accidental damage by individuals, led to extended data and voice outages for customers. To mitigate these risks, MTN Nigeria invested over N11 billion in relocating 2,500 kilometers of vulnerable fiber cables between 2022 and 2023.

ATCON’s president, Tony Izuagbe Emoekpere, welcomed the prospect of a presidential order criminalizing cable destruction, emphasizing the importance of protecting critical telecom infrastructure for the country’s economic growth and development.


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