By Emmanuel Elebeke
At last, State Governors under the auspices of the Governors’ Forum, have resolved to address the lingering issue of Right of Way (RoW) charges in a bid to deepen broadband penetration in the country and promote a Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria.
In a statement signed by the Technical Assistant (Information Technology) to the Minister, Dr ‘Femi Adeluyi said the resolution followed a presentation made by Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), during the meeting of the Governors’ Forum held on the 22nd of January, 2020.
The Minister, who was accompanied to the meeting by Prof Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Funke Opeke, Chairperson of the Presidential Committee on National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) highlighted the many benefits that an increase in broadband access can have on the economy of the various States.
He noted that one of the key benefits is the rapid growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country that increases its broadband penetration.
He then urged the State Governors to adopt the 2013 resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC), which agreed on a maximum RoW charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre.
In response, the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State acknowledged the benefits of broadband penetration and stated that the Minister should consider the matter resolved, saying that there will no longer be any need to appeal to the Governors on the issue of RoW.
In addition, the Minister also discussed the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) which was unveiled by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the 28th of November 2019.
He urged the State Governors to key into the Policy and Strategy. He also informed them of the plan of the Federal Government to help the States with a Digital Economy Strategy, through Policy, Digital Skills and other areas of intervention.
Pantamil however, thank the Chairman and members of the Governors Forum for their support in resolving the RoW challenge.
It will be recalled that the Right of Way challenge over the years has remained a clog in the wheel of progress of broadband deployment in the country, as the telecom service providers had been deprived of access to lay fibre optics by various states and Local government revenue collection agencies.
This has not only slowed down the speed of broandband penetration in the country but also affected the internet penetration (teledensity).
With the resolution of the issue between federal government and state governors, it is expected that the speed of broadband penetration will increase and expectedly lead to increase in broadband penetration.