Governors retrace steps, pledge to resolve RoW challenges
After about three weeks of intrigues, accusations and counter-accusations over the indiscriminate hike in Right of Way (Row) charges, the state governors have agreed to retrace their steps and work with the Federal Government on the issue.
This agreement was the outcome of the meeting held on Wednesday night in Abuja among the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Communications (NCC) and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
Conveyed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, the state governors resolved to address the lingering issue around RoW charges in a bid to deepen broadband penetration in the country and promote a digital economy for Nigeria.
About two and half weeks ago, some 14 state governors hiked RoW by as much as 1,200 per cent. By that act, they had subsequently deviated from the N145 per linear metre agreed to in 2013 and 2019 respectively. These resulted in them charging between N3000 and N5000 per linear metre.
The development caused a lot of uproar in the country, which was seen by many industry stakeholders as a serious disincentive to Federal Government’s digital agenda, and move to have 70 per cent broadband penetration in the country in another five.
A statement by Technical Assistant (Information Technology) to the Minister, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, said Pantami at the truce meeting discussed the many benefits that an increase in broadband access could have on the economy of the various states.
Pantami 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 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 metre of fibre.
In response, the governors acknowledged the benefits of broadband penetration and Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said that the minister should consider the matter resolved, stressing: “There will no longer be any need to appeal to the governors on the issue of Row.”
In addition to the discussion on the RoW, the minister also discussed the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), which was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 28, 2019.
Pantami urged the 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.
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