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(Special Report) Another look at Fayemi’s NGF assurance on RoW fee slash

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A cursory review of the response of the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), His Excellency, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, at the recent meeting with the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Pantami on the exorbitant charges placed on Right of Way (RoW) fee for telecom networks has become pertinent.

Before now, there had been heavy criticisms against the state governors on their hard stand against reducing the fees so that telecom Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) can deliver their fibre optic cables across the federation for seamless access to internet services.

Many industry stakeholders’ including ALTON, ATCON and media organisations including NGO like the Digital Economy Media Support Volunteers’ (DEMS Volunteers’) have all added their views in asking governors to come to terms with the reality.

Business Hilights gathered that while responding to the demands of the Minister on RoW, the Governors acknowledged the benefits of broadband penetration and the Chairman of the NGF, His Excellency, Dr. Fayemi, stated that the Honourable Minister should consider the matter resolved. There will no longer be any need to appeal to the Governors on the issue of RoW.

Though Dr Fayemi sounded very confident in his remarks that “There will no longer be any need to appeal to the Governors on the issue of RoW,” there are questions to be answered by him, which included the source of his confidence that all the states both the rich and extremely poor amongst them will align with his stand.

Observers said the NGF’s boss position would have been better when he had communicated to his colleagues and they had reached a clear understanding to avoid going back and forth.

On the other hand, some analysts say for the chairman of NGF to openly inform the Minister that  “There will no longer be any need to appeal to the Governors on the issue of RoW,” means that ahead of that meeting, governors’ may have reached an understanding.

Accordingly, experts in telecoms who barred their minds on the latest but very interesting development from the governors’ said Nigerians would like to see an advertorial placed and signed by the NGF explaining the positions they had taken that encouraged their chairman to assure the Minister and Nigerians in general that “There will no longer be any need to appeal to the Governors on the issue of RoW.”

Earlier in his introductory speech, Dr Pantami, who highlighted the many benefits that an increase in broadband access can have on the economy of the various States if RoW rates per states stand at par with the N145.00 per linear meter of fibre by the Federal Government, noted that one of the key benefits is the rapid growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country that increases its broadband penetration.

The Minister therefore urged the State Governors to adopt the 2013 resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC), which agreed on a maximum RoW charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre.

The meeting with the NGF, the Minister was accompanied to the meeting by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta; Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa and Chairperson of the Presidential Committee on National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), Funke Opeke.

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