The international submarine communication cable has finally docked in Lagos, Nigeria. Built by Alcatel but financed by Globacom, a leading telecommunications service provider in Nigeria, the cable spans 9200km, came from Portugal and passes through 15 countries to reach Nigeria's financial and commercial capital. Once launched, it will increase the quality and number of internet services for Globacom's customers. Already, a Nigerian company owned by billionaire Dangote, Alheri, is putting up fibre optic cable lines all over the country to provide the faster internet capabilities to homes and offices. It seems that Nigeria's internet future is at the doorstep.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR NIGERIA
As of March 2008, only 7.2%/ (10 million) of Nigerians used the internet. This number will explode once the underwater cable is fully launched and once it is extended to Bonny. The cable will allow for faster and cheaper internet access. That will, in turn, make access to the world wide web easier for information hungry Nigerians who already use the internet as a means of escaping their daily lives, communicating with friends and family, and learning about the world around them. By implication, information, which is a highly guarded tool, the dissemination of which has led to journalist and bloggers being arrested, would become more easily available as Nigerians demand and provide information on the issues of import to them.
The possibilities that await in Nigeria's future are endless. Consider the India example. The arrival of the underwater cable to India was arguably a crucial factor in transforming India into a leader in the outsourced services market. That reality brought not just jobs to the country, but investment, and accelerated the country's IT field. Now, Nigeria might not necessarily experience a growth in its IT sector or become a leader in the outsourced services market, but the underwater cable could provide a better outlet for indigenous industries such as Nollywood and the thriving Nigerian music scene. There would also bring more competition for local producers, forcing them to improve their products, which would be hard to deal with, but in a capitalist society, efficiency is crucial and the consumer will benefit.
Ultimately, it will be up to Nigerians to take advantage of this advancement in internet capacity. The possibilities are endless.
Please read Deborah Nason's article on Nigeria's internet story here.
Also, check out Internet World Statistic's information on internet usage in Nigeria. The information goes back to 2006.
For more information on Telecommunications in Nigeria and Africa, visit International Telecommunication Union.
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