Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has disclosed that state governors and other stakeholders in the federation have agreed to collect the harmonized rate of N145 per metre length of fibre deployment in their states.

He said the decision was the outcome of the resolution of the National Economic Council (NEC) which was facilitated by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo.

Danbatta disclosed this yesterday at the Stakeholder’s Engagement Forum with relevant state agencies in charge of telecommunications matters with the theme: ‘Optimising the Benefits of Telecoms Infrastructure in Nigeria’.

The NCC’s boss added that the range of N145 per metre length of fibre deployment was agreed upon by the 36 governors of the federation through the efforts of Osibanjo.

According to him, “This range is captured in the National Economic Council Report what states should be charged for deployment of information and communication infrastructure in any part of the country.

‘’That was the harmonised rate which was not being respected by state governments, local governments and in some instances, even touts popularly called ‘area boys’ demanding taxes from telecoms.

‘’So we were very happy when at that meeting, which was chaired by Vice President Osibanjo and all the state governors in the federation. That resolution was adopted, and therefore, we witnessed the harmonisation of the rates from the arbitrary amounts that were being charged before to the amount captured in the report, which is a N145 per metre length of fibre deployment.

“This is excluding the cost of repairs that could occur in the process of the deployment of the fibre itself.”

He stated that the resolution was as a result of the complaints by the telecos to the commission on the multiple taxation and their appeal for the need for NCC to plead with the relevant authorities to help restore the N145 per metre length of fibre deployment as the arbitrary amounts being charged by both state and local governments were not good for business.

Speaking further, he said the commission had a map of all the areas with access gaps, and that with massive deployment of the Rural Technology Solutions (RTSs), the access gaps can be bridged.

According to him, “We know where the access gaps are; we have a map domiciled in the NCC that provides useful information about the locations of access gaps. That is a very important step towards bridging the gap. At the rate of 10 gaps per annum, it is going to take the commission 20 years to bridge the gaps.

‘’But with Rural Technology Solutions, massively deployment can bridge the gaps in two to three years. We have provision for about 20 of these RTSs in the budget, and immediately we implement this deployment, we will be able to see what really is in these access gaps.”

The Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) of NCC, Sunday Dare, in an interview with the media, said NCC had done a lot, saying there are about 45 or 47 different taxes, which they hope to reduce to 10 or 12, while giving the reason why they have brought all those in the states to have this conversation.

“Well the NCC has done a lot up to this point, and in fact that we are here today shows that we have made appreciable progress. I can say we are on the last lap.

“We are looking at three key issues: harmonisation of the multiple taxation; multiple regulations and the development of technology of the taxes being charged. Right now, we have about 45 or 47 different taxes but we want to develop a technology that will bring it to the range of about 10 or 12 agreeable to all the states.

“We also want to look at the range of taxes that can be defined or taxes that can be paid in terms of do you pay between N5,000 and N10,000 not N5,000 and N450, 000. We have had conversations, consultations along the way.

‘’We have met with the governor’s forum, we have met with NEC (Nigerian Economic Council) and we have met with other stakeholders. We thought as a final assembly, we needed to bring all those in charge from all the states to have this conversation,” the executive director stated.

On the legal frame work on critical infrastructure, Dare said a bill is before the National Assembly.