Making digital technology available to all Nigerians and businesses is the most farsighted action any government can take. BENJAMIN SAMSON examines Galaxy Backbone network fibre coverage which has high-speed fibre optic cables so far laid in 22 cities in 17 states across the country and its impact on economic development.
Digital technologies have the ability to transform all aspects of the economy, as they lower the cost of economic and social transactions for firms, individuals, and the public sector.
Nigeria’s digital economy has the potential to transform economic activities by unleashing new productivity gains, offering new services, and improving the government’s efficiency. It can also lead to greater citizen engagement, rebuilding trust and enabling access to service.
Nigeria can accelerate its digital transformation by leveraging its relatively strong mobile broadband infrastructure, expanding e-commerce markets, and growing digital financial services.
To deliver on the 2030 aspirations of greater access to the digital economy and to meet the bold Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) objective of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, the government needs to continue to strategically invest in the foundational elements of its digital economy.
Experts believe that if Nigeria is to fulfil the potential offered by the digital economy, it must first improve its digital infrastructure.
Galaxy Backbone to the rescue
Nigeria’s Galaxy Backbone is the network communications and data hosting Infrastructure platform for public and private sector organisations. Galaxy Backbone commenced operations in 2006 and has since focused on improving and enhancing its service infrastructure in such a way that it consistently meets world-class standards in terms of its operations and management.
Through the intervention of the federal government and a number of global partners, a lot of investment has been made in the area of enhancing and expanding this infrastructure not just at the Federal Capital Territory, where GBB currently has the largest fibre cable roll-out but also laid across the country as well. Nationwide, it continues to lay fibre optic cables and build world-class data centres that aim to improve the Internet services of small businesses, government establishments and homes, while expanding broadband penetration and improving the standard of living of the people.
Optical Fibre Backbone
Galaxy Backbone built and operates a world class National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB), a cross-country optical fibre backbone. In its first phase, which has been completed, commissioned and covers a distance of 1484 km, the backbone spans 13 states across the South East, South South, North Central and South West of Nigeria with base stations installed in 17 cities.
The cities include; Abuja, Akwanga, Lafia, Makurdi, Ugbokolo, Enugu, Awka, Onitsha, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Eket, Uyo, Asaba, Benin, Ore, Ijebu Ode, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe, and Plateau.
Services available on the infrastructure are internet bandwidth, clear channel, dark fiber, lastmile connectivity, video conferencing.The backbone currently has a monthly availability of 98%. Availability is expected to reach 99.9 at the end of phase 2.
Galaxy Backbone has also put in place a 24/7 managed support system to provide preventive and corrective maintenance for the backbone to keep the availability within SLA specifications.
By the end of phase 2 of the NICTIB which is ongoing, Galaxy Backbone is expected to add 19 states to the 13 states completed in phase one including cities in the North East, North West and South West of Nigeria. This will close Galaxy Backbone optical fibre ring for better protection and give an assured 99.9% availability and better quality of service. At the moment under the 2nd phase, it has added 4 states to the 13 states completed in phase one, bringing it to 17 states and 22 cities.
Significantly, with high-speed fibre optic cables being laid in over 17 states of the Federation and more to be deployed in the other parts of the country, the speed of connectivity will be significantly improved within a short time. Investments have also been made in eLTE base stations currently in a number of cities across the country. These will provide reliable alternatives to customers, based on their unique locations. This provides excellent multimedia communications services for voice, SMS, data and Video for organisations, estates and homes. Most importantly, it can be modulated to support the 5G network.
Galaxy Backbone’s services are part of the federal government’s deliberate attempt to translate policy into action especially with respect to fulfilling government’s promises to the people in reducing poverty and unemployment through various social development programmes.
Through this network of optical fibre, Galaxy Backbone’s partners and other stakeholders are guaranteed returns based on its infrastructure as a service business model that will provide services to government and private institutions at an annual premium fee.
Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that there are more than 60million Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Nigeria.
These are the building blocks of the economy and the cornerstone on which the future of the economy is based, hence, it is important that the ease with which these SMEs do business with each other and Galaxy Backbone makes this possible and easy through its optical fibre that is laid across the country.
Similarly, through its evolving business model, Galaxy Backbone is open to partner with Private operators to deliver services according to International standards.
Although Galaxy Backbone is government owned, it is professionally driven to meet the demands of world-class organisations. They have a renewed focus on the customer.
One area Galaxy Backbone is critical to the federal government is the security of government data, a key factor for Nigeria’s future. Therefore, they are always open to partnership; collaboration; shared thought leadership with private sector ICT thought leaders.
On capacity building, Galaxy Backbone remains a key element in the public sector requiring private sector partnership to meet the e-government goals for the nation. This underscores the fact that security is an integral part of the Galaxy Backbone Infrastructure service experience. A number of intelligence agencies and public services organisations rely on the Galaxy Backbone Infrastructure to ensure the nation and its citizens are kept safe.
Significantly, under Professor Muhammad Bello Abubakar , its Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone is doing quite a lot of work to maintain, manage and sustain the technology experience it wants its users to have. But the organization understands that with its huge responsibility, it would require the support and partnership of other service providers and customers in ensuring that its objectives are met.
While it is true Galaxy Backbone provides services similar to a number of other ICT organizations. However, not many of those providing similar services have the level and depth of infrastructure available to Galaxy Backbone.
It is the hope of its leadership that organizations in the private sector or public sector do not see Galaxy Backbone as competitors but as collaborators in Nigeria’s journey towards becoming one of the leading digital economies in the world.
Professor Abubakar has on different occasions invited other originations to partner with Galaxy Backbone towards leveraging its huge infrastructure to help in digitally transforming the nation.
It is expected to bring economic benefits in line with the fourth industrial revolution. We hope that in a few years the hinterland of Nigeria will also be covered with fibre optics cables so that all Nigerians and indeed rural dwellers will have access to broadband and other technology tools that have become compulsory for any community that seeks meaningful growth, prosperity, and security for its people.