NCC Insists on Reduction of Right of Way Charges

0

Emma Okonji

Disturbed by the indiscriminate charges on Right of Way (RoW), which has led to several delays in rolling out telecoms infrastructure across states, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has called on state governments to consider the reduction of RoW changes as agreed in the earlier meeting between telecoms industry stakeholders and the various state governments in the country.

NCC said the call became necessary in the interest of national economic development. The commission made the call of appeal at a broadband stakeholders’ engagement workshop, which held in Lagos recently.

NCC’s Director of Technical Standards, Bako Wakil, while addressing the stakeholders, which included representatives of state governments from southern part of the country, said states were charging between N1,500 and N5,000 per metre for Right of Way, contrary to the National Executive Council’s recommendation of N145 per metre.

He said the high charges had been hindering the rollout of infrastructure by licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), a situation, he said, had forced broadband penetration in the country to remain at 22 per cent for long time.

Citing a World Bank study, which established that a 10 per cent point increase in fixed broadband penetration, will increase GDP growth by 1.21 per cent in developed economies and 1.38 per cent in developing countries, Wakil said all the states and Nigeria as a whole, would stand to gain huge economic benefits if broadband becomes pervasive.
Wakil, who is also the Alternate Chairman, Broadband Implementation and Monitoring Committee at NCC, said the NCC had recently met with all the state governors through the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to appeal to them on the need to revert to the recommended N145 per metre for RoW.

According to him, all the governors had agreed to adopt the price, but none has implemented it yet.
“Our worry now is that by next year, the current set of governors that agreed may not be in office again and we will have to start talking to new governors afresh.

“The EVC has also been meeting with governors one-on-one and we will continue to do that until they realise the importance of broadband and the need to remove the unnecessary hurdles,” he said.

The Head, Regulatory Services, MainOne, Mr. Ifeloju Alakija, who spoke at the forum on behalf of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), said the current RoW charges made it impossible for the InfraCos to roll out. MainOne was licensed as InfraCo for Lagos in 2015.

Meanwhile, Ondo State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Abdulsalam Taofiq, who represented the state at the meeting, said the country would need a law to compel the states to charge only N145 as recommended.

He advised the NCC to send a bill to the National Assembly to that effect, adding that without a law, states may not reduce the charges as they all want to generate more revenue.