The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has constituted a committee to review the framework for the licencing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) and recommend sustainable funding options for effective implementation of the proposed national fibre project.
NCC had in 2015, licenced InfraCos to cover the six geopolitical areas of the country, with the mandate to roll out infrastructure that would enhance broadband penetration across the country.
Since the licensing, InfraCos were faced with challenges that hindered the fast rollout of broadband services across the country, a situation that forced one of the InfraCos to return its licence and withdrew its services.
The constitution of the committee, according to NCC, was sequel to the requirements of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) and reports of relevant committees set up by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which includes the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee on Multiple Taxation on Telecommunications Operators over Right-of-Way (RoW) and the Technical sub-Committee on Right-of-Way for Deepening Broadband Penetration in Nigeria.
These requirements and reports are related to the imperative of reviewing the InfraCo framework to cater for the delays in take-off; change in exchange rate; supply chain and other challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NCC said the committee set up by the commission has met with all licenced InfraCos as well as the preferred bidder for the North Central zone.
The committee is also looking at the challenges facing the InfraCo project, the need for accelerated deployment of fibre infrastructure, and the means of mitigating the exorbitant RoW charges among others.
The commission is also working actively with the Broadband Implementation Steering Committee as constituted by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy based on the recommendations and requirements of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025).
Giving updates on the status of the InfraCo project at the weekend in Abuja, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said: “The InfraCo project is dear to the government because of its ability to enhance robust and pervasive broadband infrastructure to drive service availability, accessibility and affordability.
“We are keen on ensuring the project delivers maximum benefits for the economy at large and that is why the ongoing review is very critical to the overall success of the project in line with the new realities of the time.”
Danbatta, however, clarified that the current status of the InfraCo project, remained contrary to reports suggesting that the commission is inching towards executing the counter-part funding in respect of the project.