• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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IHS Nigeria, NSCDC’s synergy on protection of critical national assets and infrastructure

IHS Nigeria, NSCDC’s synergy on protection of critical national assets and infrastructure

A secure environment is essential for political, economic, and social activities to flourish in every society. It enables the government to focus on the formulation of policies that can stimulate economic growth, the provision of basic amenities for citizens, and building essential infrastructure that can drive national gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Businesses and investors (local and foreign) are more likely to invest in an economy where their operations and assets are protected from crimes such as theft and vandalism, terrorism, and other security threats.

Reasons include the fact that an effective and efficient security system will reduce the cost burden on the government and businesses, allowing for more funds to be directed towards product research, development projects, and economic growth initiatives.

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With the rising global security threats occasioned in part by the advancement of technology and the increasing activities of terrorists and other non-state actors, defence and security receive huge votes in annual government budgets in many countries, including Nigeria.

In Nigeria, the protection of essential physical and virtual Critical National Assets and Infrastructure (CNAI), consisting of systems, assets, and networks, is prioritised by the federal, state, and local governments because they have a direct and indirect impact on our daily lives. These include roads, airports, seaports, railways, electricity grids, transformers, transmission cables, oil and gas pipelines, water supply facilities, schools, hospitals, government buildings, courts, national defence and security institutions, custodial facilities, and international travel passports, among others.

Equally pivotal for Nigeria’s security and socio-economic growth are the essential physical and virtual telecommunication infrastructure that drives our nation’s functioning communication, security, and the general well-being of Nigerians and foreigners resident in the country. The physical infrastructure includes telecom towers, fibre-optic cables, and power generators at cell sites. The virtual infrastructure, such as digital networks, information systems, and data repositories, underpins crucial operations such as telecommunications, financial transactions, emergency response coordination, national defence, and internal security.

Theft, vandalism, and destruction of telecom’s physical and virtual assets ranked among the nagging challenges faced by telecom operators and infrastructure companies in Nigeria. With information and communication technology (ICT), of which telecom is a significant driver, contributing 16.66% to Nigeria’s real GDP in Q4 2023, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the protection of telecom infrastructure and assets cannot be overemphasised.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) is the lead federal government security outfit with a mandate to protect and safeguard critical national assets and infrastructure across the country. The Commandant General of the NSCDC, Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, recently reaffirmed that any act of destruction or vandalism of our CNAI would have debilitating effects on the national economy.

Thus, recently, IHS Towers, one of the largest independent owners, operators, and developers of shared communications infrastructure in the world by tower count, took a bold step by donating ICT equipment to NSCDC during a visit to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

The gesture, according to IHS Nigeria’s Associate Director, Government Relations, Fatima Ibrahim-Haruna, was to enable the security agency to scale up effectiveness and efficiency in its operations by leveraging technology to adequately tackle insecurity challenges and threats in the country. While commending NSCDC for its efforts at protecting the nation’s CNAI, she added that the donation of the ICT equipment underscored the commitment of IHS Towers to promoting the wellbeing of people and communities, in line with the core pillars of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Ibrahim-Haruna noted that IHS Towers owns over 176,000 towers across Nigeria and pledged the company’s continued collaboration and partnership with NSCDC, as well as other strategic institutions, to foster a sustainable future for Nigeria. She added that IHS Nigeria would further support the agency by upgrading its ICT Centre.

“Telecom infrastructure is integral to national security by supporting communication for defence operations and intelligence activities, financial institutions, healthcare, education, aviation, commerce, and many other sectors that rely heavily on telecommunications for their daily operations. Disruptions in telecom operations can lead to significant economic losses, affecting productivity and growth. Ensuring security and protection of telecom infrastructure helps prevent espionage, cyberattacks, and other security threats that can undermine national security and economic stability,’’ she stated.

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The NSCDC Commandant General, Dr. Audi, commended IHS Nigeria for the ICT equipment and reiterated the unwavering commitment of the security outfit to ensuring adequate safety of lives and protection of critical national assets and infrastructure in the country.

“Maintaining law and order and, most importantly, safeguarding all critical national assets and infrastructure in the nation is a core mandate to which NSCDC is irrevocably committed as the lead agency in this regard,’’ he affirmed, while restating that critical assets and infrastructure are pivotal for national security, economic growth, and social order.

Audi added: “It is against this backdrop that NSCDC has mapped out different strategies to nip in the bud all activities of economic saboteurs vandalising government properties and critical national assets and infrastructure. As a lead agency in the protection of CNAI as contained in the National Security Document, we remain resolute and call on other critical stakeholders and security agencies to collaborate with NSCDC for maximum protection of CNAI.’’

The Commandant General assured the delegation from HIS Nigeria of the agency’s continued partnership with IHS Towers by ensuring there was no obstruction to its operations.

Telecom infrastructure is essential for fostering innovation and technological advancements. Telecom infrastructure provides the backbone for emerging technologies like IoT, AI, and 5G, which drive economic development by creating new opportunities for individuals, businesses, and countries. Critical services such as national security and intelligence, law enforcement, emergency response, healthcare, education, and financial transactions, among others, depend on reliable telecommunications. Therefore, protecting telecom infrastructure like other critical national assets and infrastructure will ensure these services are made available without disruptions, and the economy will be the best beneficiary if this can happen.

 

Ojedokun, a brand strategist and development expert writes from Lagos.