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Broadband: FG urges states to adopt uniform charges for RoW

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By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Federal Government has urged state governments to adopt the 2013 resolution of National Executive Council, NEC on Right of Way (RoW) charges to hasten  broadband penetration in the country.

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami made the call on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said the call was necessary because of the need for the state governments to reconsider these decisions in the interest of Nigerians as well as for the socio-economic growth and development of the country.

Pantami who frowned at the attitude of some state executives who disregarded the agreement reached by NEC said  that such actions are counter-productive to efforts of federal government to bridge digital gap.

“We are calling on those states 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.

“We are therefore calling on all 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.

“We received with dismay the decision of some states of the Federation to increase the Right of Way charges in disregard of the resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC),” he said.

Recall that in 2013, NEC set up a Committee comprising State Governors and Ministers to review the issues of multiple taxation in the telecommunications Industry in Nigeria and its impact.

The Committee, after extensive and wide-ranging consultations, resolved to harmonize the taxes applicable to broadband related activities and streamline the taxation management processes across the Federation.

The Committee also agreed to the uniform Right of Way (RoW) charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre, to deepen broadband penetration for the social and economic development of the country.

In the same vein, the ministry had 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.

Emphasising the importance of digital economy to Nigeria, the minister said, “it is true that the digital economy today is strategically dominating the world economy. Oxford Economics puts the current value of the digital economy at $11.5 trillion which is about 16% of the world economy.

“Furthermore, the World Economic Forum revealed that 60% of the global economy is expected to be digitised by 2022.”

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, the minister said, “we are 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,” adding 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,” he added.

He therefore called on all 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.

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He equally drew their attention that these decisions, if implemented, will result in an increase on the costs of operations of the telecoms operators which will naturally be passed to the consumers.

Vanguard

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