FG To States: Reverse Telecoms Row Charge Hike
The Federal Government has faulted the hike of Right of Way charges by some state governments.
RoW charges refer to fees paid by telecommunications operators to the government for the permission to install some of their infrastructure.
The National Economic Council, comprising the 36 states and chaired by the Vice President, had resolved that telecom operators were to pay N145 per linear metre to lay fibre cable anywhere in the country.
However, some state governments increased the fee to between N3,000 and N6,000 per linear metre.
In a statement he personally signed, which was made available to journalists on Tuesday, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, asked the governors of the concerned states to reverse the decision to increase the charges.
The minister said the action of the state governments would undermine Nigeria’s socio-economic development, particularly efforts to deepen broadband penetration in the country.
He further observed that the development would also lead to higher cost of telecommunications services.
The minister said, “We are calling on all state governors, especially those that have made public their decision to increase the RoW charges, to reconsider these decisions in the interest of Nigerians as well as for the socio-economic growth and development of the country.
“We also draw their attention that these decisions, if implemented, will result in an increase on the costs of operations of the telecoms operators which will naturally be passed to the consumers.”
Pantami expressed regrets that the states increased the RoW charges despite making inputs into resolutions reached by the NEC.
He said, “We received with dismay the decision of some states of the federation to increase the Right of Way charges in disregard of the resolutions reached by the National Economic Council.
“It may be recalled that in 2013, NEC set up a committee comprising state governors and ministers to review the issues of multiple taxation in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria and its impact.
“The committee, after extensive and wide-ranging consultations, resolved to harmonise the taxes applicable to broadband related activities and streamline the taxation management processes across the federation.
“Specifically, to deepen broadband penetration for the social and economic development of the country, the committee agreed to the uniform Right of Way charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre.”
Pantami noted that the ministry had, in October 2019, written to all the state governors, drawing their attention to the NEC resolution.
The ministry also urged the states to support the actualisation of the national digital economy by helping to fast-track deployment of broadband infrastructure for the provision of affordable Internet services to underserved and un-served areas.
Stressing that digital economy was currently dominating the world economy; Pantami noted that Oxford Economics had put the current value of the digital economy at $11.5tn, about 16 per cent of the world economy.
According to him, the World Economic Forum reveals that 60 per cent of the global economy is expected to be digitised by 2022.
The action of the state governments was undermining efforts being made by the Federal Government to actualise the digital economy project, Pantami said.