By Atinuke Tokura Nukay/TnTv Network
Harmonizing Right of Way (RoW) charges for broadband infrastructure investment and Charge Agreement regrettably is yet to be fully adopted by the 36 states of Nigeria and in recognition of the slow uptake by these states. In 2017, through the National Executive Council (NEC), approved a policy, which resulted in a RoW Charge Agreement reached with all the governors of the 36 states of Nigeria.
January 2020 recorded a step in the right direction when the Nigerian Governors Forum accordingly resolved that telecommunication operators were to pay N145 (One Hundred and Forty-Five Naira only) (approximately US$0.37 (Thirty-Seven Cents) per linear metre to lay fibre cable anywhere in the country.
Policy, Regulatory Reforms On RoW took centre stage of the technical conference compered by the Telecom Regulator’s Principal Manager of the Consumer Affairs Bureau, Dr Omoniyi Ibietan on Thursday.
This is part of the UK government’s technical assistance package in advancing policy and regulatory reforms on RoW in the telecoms sector and Site Build Permitting with the aim of promoting inclusive and sustainable digital access in the country.
In her opening remarks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Ali Pantami for his quest in making promotion of affordable, inclusive, safe and secure digital access for underserved or excluded populations’.
“Nigeria has seen great progress in the effort to provide inclusive digital access to millions of its citizens. The COVID19 pandemic has however, made the world rely more heavily on internet connectivity for access to basic necessities – health, education, work, shopping, convenience and other services. As such, substantial digital inequities have been revealed.
“The UK is keen to support the promotion of affordable, inclusive, safe and secure digital access for underserved or excluded populations, and this conference is a significant step to discuss the technical findings of our preliminary study, outcomes, lingering challenges and the way forward.
“I hope that today’s deliberation will culminate into an increased digital inclusion as a basis for a more thriving local tech ecosystem, generating skilled jobs and innovative solutions for local development challenges.”
Throwing weight behind the reforms and policies of Right of Way in the country, State Governors in attendance including Gov. Dr Kayode Fayemi, (Ekiti State), Gov. Hope Uzodinma (Imo State), Gov. Simon Lalung (Plateau State). Gov Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto State), Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara State), Gov. Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina State) noted that it will not only increase job creation and innovation, but help digitalize transactions in the State.
Earlier, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isah Ali Pantami thanked the UK Government while lauding the role played in the development of the new national broadband plan through the Digital Access Programme. Assuring that the Ministry will continue to champion the reforms on RoW and work on the challenges identified by the technical study.”
“I want to thank the UK Government for supporting the Nigeria Digital Economy agenda. Earlier the UK Government supported us in the development of the new national broadband plan through the Digital Access Programme.
“Nigeria has in the last 1 year of my time as Minister, added 10% to the broadband penetration level in the country. RoW reforms is the key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive digital growth and we have worked with the Nigerian Governors Forum to achieve some important results already. We will continue to champion this reforms on RoW and work on the challenges identified by the technical study.”
Reacting to the technical study and the next steps going forward, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, represented by the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management (ECSM), Barr. Adeleke Adewolu also thanked the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme for their support in championing reforms on RoW to deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.
“The Technical Assistance on RoW reforms will assist in our quest for deepening broadband penetration in Nigeria. NCC is willing and ready to advance the reforms noted in the technical study and will collaborate with stakeholders to effect it in the short, medium and long term.” The EVC stated.
Earlier, Managing Counsel at Greenfields Law, an ICT law firm who also consults on strategy and market trends in the communications Industry, Osondu Nwokoro explained the current state and policies of Right of Way in the Country.
Applauding State Governments that have announced the reforms on RoW, the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme Adviser and Country Lead, Idongesit Udoh, said:
“This project will help accelerate the roll-out of backbone connectivity infrastructure, to underserved communities which is the key to unlocking Nigeria’s digital economy for inclusive, digitally-enabled growth, development and job creation for Nigerians.
“The Digital Access Programme is also working on other projects such as cyber security essentials up skilling for SMEs around the country and basic digital literacy to promote inclusive economic growth and development.”
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami had on January 14, 2020 in a press statement called on states to implement the harmonization of the RoW charges for obvious benefits for the sector such as deepening development/growth in broadband infrastructure and reduce the transfer of RoW charges costs by telecommunications companies to customers.