Minister, NCC worry over Abuja’s poor ICT infrastructure
The poor state of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has become a source of worry to government personnel.
This was made known when the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the FCT Minister, and Muhammed Musa Bello, in Abuja at the weekend.
Danbatta listed a number of challenges that have denied the FCT the best telecommunications services, especially with Quality of Service (QoS).
“We have come because, we believe that with the progressive style of your administration, these challenges will be resolved for the benefit of the government, the residents and national telecommunications development,” Danbatta explained.
These challenges include inability of operators to co-locate because the sites offered for co-location are inadequate, and do not suit the technical specifications of the service providers.
He advised that providers be involved in determining allocation sites to ensure that the identified sites meet network and radio frequency standards of all stakeholders.
Danbatta also listed the 2006 fee regime of the FCTA, which still exists, and the astronomical rise in fees for building permits imposed on operators by the FCTA.
The others include retrospective FCTA laws that affect telecom facilities, and activities of road construction companies in the FCT.
He also listed delayed approval for installation of base stations/fibre deployments, implementation of the National Economic Council (NCC) resolution on multiple taxes, levies and charges on ICT infrastructure in Nigeria, among the hurdles telecom operators face in Abuja.
On the 2006 fee regime of FCTA, he said it was agreed in a meeting between operators, FCTA, and NCC that year that the Federal Capital Administration would meet and harmonise positions on the astronomical increase in fees for building permits imposed by FCTA.
“This has not been done and operators have continued to receive bills from the Administration based on the 2006 rates. Therefore, we request your approval to establish a committee made up of officers of the FCT and the NCC to resolve issues relating to charges to ensure rates agreed are cost based and comparable to what FCTA charges are, for other users of properties,” Danbatta appealed.
On the retrospective FCT laws that affect telecom facilities, the NCC boss said any law or policy by the FCTA that affect telecom facilities should not be made retroactive.
“We have observed that the fact that telecom services in the FCT were not envisaged during its initial planning has resulted in administrators approaching telecom facilities as a normal property, and visiting them with regulations that should not be applicable. We therefore request that approval be given to all existing BTS in the FCTA except those that clearly pose a danger to its surrounding,” he said.
On delayed approval for installation of base stations, he said there were causes of applications for installations of base stations in Abuja that have been pending since 2014 and beyond. Danbatta said the quarterly contribution of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased to N1.6 trillion from N1.4 trillion.
Responding, Bello promised that the capital city’s administration would collaborate with the NCC to overcome those challenges.
He said: “Part of our job is to ease businesses, and increase investment in the city and the country at large. We would support you in ensuring there is always increase in broadband penetration across the country,” and agreed to set up a committee to look into all the complaints raised by Danbatta.
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