Business Hilights
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Nigerians tired of hearing about licensing Infracos from NCC for years—Expert

A leading telecoms investor (name with held), has advised the leadership of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to save itself, the energy of continually repeating itself at every occasion that it has given out licenses to telecoms Infrastructure Companies (InfrCos) across the seven zones of the country.
In an interview in Lagos, the stakeholder, who preferred not to be named, said “Am worried because the issue is not in giving out licences to InfraCos, but making sure that the licencees were able to use the licences for what they were meant for and on time”.
“It is worrisome that at every opportunity NCC has to speak on its activities and achievements, first thing it always tells Nigerians is that it has licenced Infracos to wire the length and breadth of the nation with fibre optic cables for the delivery of fixed broadband.
“The NCC is aware that none of the licencees is making any progress in delivering the services for which the licence was given. To me, that should have been the concern of the regulator.
“NCC should be on the forefront of providing level playing ground and associated condusive environment for Infracos to ply their trade.
“The regulator should be on the neck of the Federal Government, telling President Buhari to reach out to States’ governors so that they should soften their multiple taxation regimes and reduce charges per square meter so that licencees can do the business they had been licenced to do.
Continuing, the aggrieved stakeholder revealed that “With the exception of Lagos if am not mistaken, no other zone’s Infraco is on site for more than two to three years of getting NCC’s licence due to challenges of Right of Way (RoW), multiple taxation, vandalism and even forex access. We need to tell ourselves the truth and stop sycophancy or playing to the gallery at all times on critical national issue of importance”.
Business Hilights recalls that NCC, in the last three years had in all its address of scorecard, been making reference to licencing Infracos, but had not within the period under review, given any statistics of how far the Infracos had gone in delivering the services for which the licences were given to them.
On Tuesday, at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition, at Base University, Abuja, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said “We have also licensed infrastructure companies across the six geopolitical zones in the country. The Infraco licensing is coming under the Open Access Model initiative of the NCC aimed at deepening broadband infrastructure.”
Whereas Danbatta averred that the efforts of the Infracos in increasing broadband penetration would be encouraged in practical terms with the award of subsidies, which are expected to make their services affordable, checks showed that none of the Infracos had accessed any form of subsidy or the over N5bn financial facility designed to come from an understanding sealed between the NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) some time ago.
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Danbatta, represented at the event by a director in the commission, Mrs Iyabo Solanke, further averred that the Commission would encourage the use of new technology and television White Space, for broadband penetration in rural communities, but how the entire process will be driven is yet to be worked out.