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Infracos differ on Minister’s claims that VP convinced governors on RoW

Barely two days after the Minister of Communications, Barr Adebayo Shittu had claimed that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had convinced state governors in buying into the initiative of making fees imposed on Right of Way (RoW) flexible to deepen broadband penetration, contacted top officials of some telecoms Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) have spoken differently.

The Minister who spoke while welcoming officials of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) who visited the management of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), revealed that the understanding reached between governors and Osinbajo, would among other things, ease challenges in the laying fibre optic cables that would cover over 18000km in Nigeria.

ATCON was led to the courtesy visit by the president, Engr Olusola Teniola and other newly elected members of the national executive committee.

However, a stakeholder who spoke with our correspondent on grounds of anonymity said “We have been hearing of meetings upon meetings between the federal government and states governments before now and nothing tangible has been come out of it as I speak to you”.

“The crux of the matter is that majority of the states are hard to be convinced that they do not need to charge so much for the laying of fibre cables on their roads and streets.

“Many states especially those with very poor Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) see telecoms as deep pocket investors that must be taxed heavily on everything they are doing not minding that it is better to tax users of the infrastructure than taxing infrastructure providers in the long run.

The telecoms expert revealed that “As we are speaking, very limited number of licenced Infracos is working in very few states that have reduced their RoW fees and that is not very good for the industry and the target of meeting the set 30 per cent broadband penetration by year end.

At the last count, it was gathered that only Lagos and Bayelsa States have clearly bought in to the understanding of easing fees for the laying of fibre optic cables as other states remain adamant.