The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have agreed to work closely with relevant stakeholders as the former inches closer to developing a regulatory framework to provide operational guidelines for submarine cable and pipeline operators in Nigeria. Officials of both organs of government reached this agreement at a pre Audit meeting on submarine cable regulation, held in Lagos.
NIMASA Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh, who chaired the meeting, which also had the Director General of Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Mr Dasuki Arabi in attendance, noted that the NIMASA is committed to the Ease of Doing Business, while implementing international conventions, which Nigeria has ratified and domesticated. He noted that with Nigeria now a destination for global communication players, the time has come to prevent unregulated underwater cable laying, which might become hazardous to shipping.
According to him, “it is worthy to note that marine cable laying has been ongoing for over two decades in Nigerian waters. Our focus is to ensure safety of navigation of shipping in Nigerian waters with all these underwater cables being laid.
“NIMASA is actually developing the guidelines to regulate submarine cable operators in line with the provisions of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which we have ratified and NIMASA is the agency of government in Nigeria responsible for its implementation. We do not just implement laws; we consult. Where the responsibility of an Agency stops, that is where the responsibilities of another agency starts. Collaboration is a key component of ease of doing business in the best interest of the country and we will work closely with the NCC to achieve this”.
NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented by the Director of Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Efosa Idehen noted that the stakeholders’ dialogue strategy adopted by NIMASA in developing the guidelines would ensure a win-win situation urging NIMASA to include the Ministry of Justice, a request NIMASA DG immediately granted.
Arabi commended NIMASA and NCC for adopting effective Inter-Agency collaboration to avert a potential challenge for the country in the future.
NIMASA had notified submarine and cable operators in Nigeria of a soon to be implemented regulatory guideline for submarine cables and pipelines in Nigeria, in line with the provisions of UNCLOS. NIMASA and the NCC agreed to identify and resolve areas of likely regulatory overlaps, ensuring a regulatory framework based on consultation to engender attainment of Nigeria’s digital economy transformation.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Environment and representatives of Submarine Cable operators in Nigeria were also at the meeting.