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Can Senate save telecoms by resolving RoW, multiple regulation issues?

Last week or so, the Nigerian Senate Committee on Telecoms led by its chairman and wife of the ruling party leader, Senator Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, was on a familiarisation and fact-finding mission at the Abuja head office of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

In her goodwill message, she argued that considering the Commission’s mammoth challenges facing the industry and recorded achievements so far, its regulatory interventions and performance deserves to be appreciated and commended.

Yes, whereas observers agreed to her eulogies on the performance of the Commission, industry experts have continued to make it clear that the two critical challenges which NCC presented before the Committee are clearly what the Senate can handle if it takes it seriously.

Business Hilights recalls that the Executive Management team of the Commission, led by Prof Umar Danbatta, told the committee that Right of Way (RoW) charges are seriously affecting expansion of services by operators.

NCC also made it clear before the lawmakers that its checks revealed that against the agreed 145/per linear meter for RoW charges, states and their agencies superintending over telecommunication infrastructure have reneged on their promises, insisting on charging between N5000 and N6000 per meter.

NCC Senate Committee visits
L-R: Sen. Ibrahim Bomai, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications; Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman, Committee; Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, during the familiarization and fact-finding tour of the Committee to the Commission in Abuja on Tuesday (10/03/2020).

Definitely, this is where the Senate Committee must show love for the nation and growth of the industry if ICT must continue to remain relevant in the growth of Nigeria’s GDP.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Danbatta, did not miss any word in raising his voice in frustration that the exorbitant stand of the governors has remained a serious disincentive to telecoms operators and mainly Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) in the country.

Aside the RoW issue which the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and its chairman, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State had taken as a political tool to shock investors’, NCC boss also told the Senate Committee that power is another challenge facing telecommunications operations in the country.

According to him, the cost of providing power for base stations is astronomical.

However, before the Senators would round up the visit, Prof Danbatta raised another issue of urgent industry importance which according to him, had been the challenge of industry multiple regulations and taxation.

He argued that the number and volumes of unfair taxes and billing levied on telcos constitute a drawback to infrastructure deployment in the telecoms sector.

Danbatta also informed that security challenges, including theft of equipment; transmission cable cuts, and all sort of vandalism are impacting service quality. He also hinted on delays in securing approval for sites for new base stations and the need to fast track the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill that had lasted more than some lawmakers in the National Assembly.

Now armed with the top five challenges of the telecoms industry, when and how would the Senator Oluermi Tinubu’s Committee do justice to the issues so raised by the leadership of the NCC?