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RoW Hike angers Telecoms Operators, say actions derail Nigeria’s Digital Economy Plans

IT News Nigeria:

Telecoms service providers under the umbrella of Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, (ALTON) has said it was regrettable fourteen States in Nigeria have increased the charges of Right of Way ( RoW) by over 1200% at a time the Federal Government was harmonising the charges.

ALTON’s Chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo told Techeconomy.ng that that this will lead to negative sentiments among investors, especially, those involved in the deployment of fibre optic cables across the country.

Recalled, Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Imo, Kebbi and Gombe, have raised RoW for telecoms infrastructure  72 hours after the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Ali Pantami said he had written all the state Governors to comply with the N145 RoW charges

 Adebayo is quoted as saying that “ALTONis very concerned about what we read in the paper (newspaper) today (January 06, 2020). We are consulting among ourselves and across board, because this is a counter-productive move by the States Ministries and Agencies. It goes to show that while the Federal Government is moving towards finding solutions to the perennial issues faced by the telecommunications industry, the State Governments are on different thinking and journey.

“This is definitely going to affect the roll out of broadband and infrastructure deployment in those States and others. In our thinking, the N145 per linear meter proposed fee for Right of Way charges by the Federal Government should be implemented across board. Now, our members are faced with the issue of fibre cuts, who repairs it for us. Nobody! You will realise that the N5,000 and N6,000 fees these States want to charge on Right of Way is far much higher than the cost of deploying a fibre per linear meter. For instance, the fibre itself costs about N100 per meter; the excavation is about N200 per meter (though depending on a company’s negotiation power).

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“So, when the nation is emphasising about digital economy and the State seem not to understand the place of telecommunications in driving such agenda, then, it will end in the negative. How do you expect the telecos to even slash the charges for data and calls in a situation like this? We do not wish that this continues to happens in the country. Let common sense prevail.

“And to think that this is coming at the time a New National Broadband Plan is being worked on, it beats one’s imagination as per who advises the State Governments on these decisions. You can’t drive digital economy without telecommunications. It is not just possible.

“Another impact this might have is that the cable companies with undersea cables at our seashores will find it difficult to bring the cables to the cities or hinterlands. Nobody want to invest in a hostile and volatile environment. This calls for caution.

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