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Federal Government urges states to honour RoW agreements

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•Claims hike will cut off consumers
•ATCON says states not mutually exclusive from broadband devt

The Federal Government has called on all state governors to honour the agreement on a unified and hamonised Right of Way (RoW) levies in the country.
   
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, yesterday, urged states to reconsider their decisions in the interest of Nigerians as well as for the socio-economic growth and development of the country.
   
Pantami stressed that if the states’ plan to hike RoW tariff by as much as 1,200 is allowed to stay, it will result in an increase on the costs of operations of telecoms operators, which will naturally be passed on to the consumers.
   
Also, lending its voice for states to rescind their decision, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), said the hike is unnecessary as it will be counterproductive and slow down broadband development in the states.
   
ATCON President, Olusola Teniola, who commended the state governors for the giant strides in the area of accelerating the development and growth of their various states, reiterated the body’s commitment to working with states and their agencies in providing an enabling environment for the establishment of more telecoms and ICT companies in the states.

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Pantami said Federal Government received with dismay the decision of some states to increase the RoW charges in disregard of the resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC).
 
Recall that in 2013, NEC had set up a Committee comprising state governors and ministers to review the issues of multiple taxes in Nigeria’s telecommunications industry in and its impact.

The Committee, after extensive and wide-ranging consultations, resolved to harmonise the taxes applicable to broadband-related activities, and streamline the tax management processes across the federation.
Specifically, to deepen broadband penetration for Nigeria’s social and economic development, the Committee agreed to a uniform Right of Way (RoW) charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre.
   
The Minister also recalled that in October 2019, “we had 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.”
    
Noting that the digital economy today is strategically dominating the world economy, Pantani, quoting the Oxford Economics, put the current value of the digital economy at $11.5 trillion, which is about 16 per cent of the world economy.  

Furthermore, he said the World Economic Forum revealed that 60 per cent 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, 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 per cent. 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 per cent broadband penetration would result in an increase of 2.5 per cent of GDP per capita,” he stated.
    
On his part, Teniola further said the socio-economic development of the state is not mutually exclusive to broadband infrastructure development.
    
He said ATCON is aware that states are passionate about improving life expectancy, literacy, increase the level of employment in their respective localities. “With friendly business environment for telecoms companies, all these goals can be achieved on the condition that the RoW charge is not inimical to the spread of broadband infrastructure development,” he stated.
   
Teniola, who called for collaboration, noted that members, which are principally telecoms and ICT companies, rely heavily on the states and its agencies to make policies that promote further investment, which would lead to building more telecom infrastructure that are needed by the citizenry, governance and businesses to deliver hitch-free broadband services.

“But with the recent upward review of the RoW, this might be difficult to achieve. We therefore appeal for a reversal of the cost back to what is being charged before,” he added.   
 

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