NITEL may lose undersea link

25 Apr 2007

Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the incumbent wireline operator in the west African state, may lose a financial life line; its link to the SAT-3 submarine cable, which might be shut down at the end of April due to an accumulated debt of USD4 million owed to the UK telco Cable and Wireless (C&W). NITEL’s 7.33% stake in SAT-3, which spans a total of 28,000km and directly connects 15 countries in Africa, Europe and Asia is thought to be capable of generating as much as NGN200 billion (USD1.5 billion) a year for NITEL. SAT-3 provides much of Nigeria’s international connectivity for most of the Private Telecom Operators (PTO) and Internet Service Providers (ISP). NITEL paid more than NGN6 billion for its stake when the cable was lit in 2001. NITEL spokesman Bala Abdulkadir said the company was paying its debt gradually, based on an agreed arrangement.