* Ekiti, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Plateau reduce RoW prices
* NCC movements that led to a new normal
For Prince Osuagwu, High-tech editor
When the International Telecommunication Union, the ITU carried out a study on Africa and stated that a 10 percent broadband penetration would lead to a 2.5 percent increase in GDP per capita, the federal government moved from Immediate to charge to create a solid economy in the backbone of technological development.
ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for problems related to information and communication technologies, making its position on a strong correlation between a country’s broadband penetration and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is established and incontrovertible.
In 2013, the federal government’s National Economic Council, NEC, created a Committee made up of Governors and Ministers of State to review multiple tax issues in the Nigerian telecommunications industry and its impact.
The Committee, after extensive and extensive consultations, resolved to harmonize the taxes applicable to broadband activities and streamlined tax management processes throughout the Federation. Specifically, to deepen broadband penetration for the country’s social and economic development, the Committee agreed on the uniform right-of-way, RoW, charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fiber.
However, before now, most states refused to comply with that harmonization, instead raising prices to N6000 per linear meter of fiber. This has frustrated operators that appeared to have abandoned investments, especially in terrestrial fiber cable deployments.
It also resulted in Nigeria being one of the countries with the lowest last-mile broadband deployments in the world.
Therefore, the successive administrations of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the Ministry of Communications Technology, of Engr Eugene Juwah and now Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, and their supervising ministers, including Dr. Omobola Johnson, Adebayo shittu and now Ibrahim Pantami, they have constantly involved various governors. on the issue of the Right of Way, among others, that would allow support for the smooth implementation of telecommunications services, but to no avail.
Upon assuming office in 2015, the current NCC Executive Vice President developed a Regional Stakeholder Forum to discuss the RoW issue and a variety of other topics, such as multiple taxes, vandalism, theft of telecommunications equipment, indiscriminate closure of telecommunications, among others. . He also held several meetings with the Nigerian NGF Governors’ Forum on the need to reduce exorbitant RoW charges and comply with NEC-approved N145 right-of-way charges per linear meter of fiber cable deployment.
He also took the time to adequately inform the new communications and digital economy minister, Dr. Pantami, about the RoW issue, describing it as “one of the biggest problems holding back the deployment of broadband infrastructure across the state” .
Based on this understanding, the Minister, in October 2019, sent a letter to the governors explaining why it was pertinent to comply with the N145 RoW charges. He then followed up with a visit to the President of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
His letter reminded governors of their agreement to support the realization of the National Digital Economy, but warned that without accelerating the deployment of broadband infrastructure for the provision of affordable Internet services in underserved and neglected areas, the digital economy would be a mirage. .
He noted that “it is true that today’s digital economy is strategically dominating the global economy. Oxford Economics puts the current value of the digital economy at $ 11.5 trillion, which is approximately 16 percent of the global economy.” Furthermore, the Forum World Economic revealed that 60 percent of the world economy is expected to go digital by 2022.
With the name change from the Federal Ministry of Communications to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, as well as the presentation of the National Policy and Strategy of Digital Economy by Mr. President, we are on the way to take advantage of the potential of the economy digital.
However, it is disheartening to hear that some states have chosen to ignore these resolutions and, in some cases, have increased RoW charges by more than 1,200 percent. This will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the efforts made by the Federal Government. “
However, in January 2020, around 14 state governors notified their intention to further increase RoW charges again. It left the entire telecommunications industry confused. Although the federal government expressed dismay at development, very little could be done to tame the governors.
Apparently, the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic may have changed the status quo as governor of Ekiti, Dr. Kayode Fayemi announced a drastic reduction in RoW from N4,500 to N145 per linear meter in his state.
Following national applause that welcomed the new development in Ekiti, other states such as Plateau, Imo, Katsina and Kaduna have followed suit.
The reduction in RoW charges means that the cost of broadband penetration in the states will drop dramatically, as laying 1 km of cable will now cost around N145,000 compared to the previous N4.5M.
However, in the case of Kaduna, the state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, totally waived the payment of RoW for the deployment of broadband / telecommunications infrastructure in his state.
The president of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators in Nigeria, ALTON, gr. Gbenga Adebayo, his counterpart in the Association of Nigerian Telecommunications Companies, Engr Olusola Teniola, and tech entrepreneur and president of Zinox Technologies, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, have taken the time to applaud. Both the Governors, Danbatta and Pantami for the latest development.
They also urged the rest of the states to see as a duty to their states to follow a series of issues on the right of way, in order to attract development to their respective states.
According to Adebayo, “this is a new dawn in the telecommunications sector. Wait and see the level of development that these states will attract in the coming years. In fact, the right to development now depends on how far state governors can compete in the reduction game. ”