The Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Professor Umar Danbatta met with the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Executive Governor of Ekiti state, Dr Kayode Fayemi in what seems like a bid to find amicable solution to the recent hike of right of way charges by several states across the country.
Though details of the meeting, which held in Abuja, are mostly figments, it would look like a follow-up to discussions on how to address the issue of Right of Way (RoW) and other similar challenges confronting the telecoms industry.
Recall that BizAfricaDaily recently reported an increase in the RoW. Fourteen states, among them Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Imo, Kebbi and Gombe shot up RoW charges from the initial fee of between N300 to N500 per linear metre to between N3,000 and N6,000 per linear metre, which represented not less than 1,200% increments.
Curiously, the hike came after a Committee, which they were a part of had agreed to streamline the taxation management processes across the Federation to the uniform Right of Way (RoW) charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre. The agreement was reached so as to deepen broadband penetration for the social and economic development of the Country.
The ministry of communication and digital economy had also in October 2019, written to all the State Governors, drawing their attention to these resolutions and soliciting their support and collaboration towards the realisation of the National Digital Economy by fast-tracking the deployment of broadband infrastructure for the provision of affordable internet services to underserved and unserved areas.
Pantami had said in a recent statement the digital economy today is strategically dominating the world economy, as the Oxford Economics puts the current value of the digital economy at $11.5 trillion which is about 16% of the world economy.
The World Economic Forum, he said had revealed that 60% of the global economy is expected to be digitised by 2022 and that with the renaming of the Federal Ministry of Communications to Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy as well as the unveiling of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy by Mr President, Nigeria on the path of realising the potentials of the digital economy.
“It is, however, disheartening to hear that some States have decided to disregard these resolutions and have, in some cases, increased the RoW charges by over 1,200%.
“This will no doubt impact negatively on the efforts being made by the Federal Government. It is established that there is a strong correlation between a country’s broadband penetration and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). An ITU study on Africa indicates that a 10% broadband penetration would result in an increase of 2.5% of GDP per capita”, the minister had lamented.
He therefore called on the State Governors, especially those that have made public their decisions to increase the RoW charges, to reconsider these decisions in the interest of Nigerians as well as for the socio-economic growth and development of the country.
Telecom operators under the umbrella bodies of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) have also described the increase in ROW charges as inimical to the development of broadband infrastructure and low telecom services offering.