By Oluwatobi Opusunju
The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta has asked the Federal Government to intervene and ensure compliance of all the 36 states governments to the resolution of the National Economic Council (NEC) on the Right of Way (RoW) charges. The charges stipulate N145 per metre for laying fiber network in every part of the country, according to the NCC’s boss. But telecom providers are still made to contend with arbitrary high charges above the recommended national benchmark in a way that has slowed down network builtout by operators.
Danbatta spoke in Abuja during the visit of a delegation from the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council (NIPCA) led by Ms. Edirin Akemu.
Danbatta expressed worries that if there is no government intervention, it may be impossible for the country to achieve its broadband goal of 30% penetration this year. A recent report by the NCC puts broadband penetration in the country at 22%, up from 21.8% it was in the last quarter of 2017. But policy impediments and not just funding are slowing down broadband rollout by private sector operators.
Nigeria needs more than 120,000 kilometers of metropolitan fiber networks interconnected across the country to accelerate broadband penetration and make it ubiquitous, but regrettably only 38,000 kilometers have been covered so far, said Danbatta to hiss guests.
Broadband within the Nigerian context is defined as an internet experience where internet users can access the most demanding content in real time at a minimum speed of 1.5 Mbit/s.
“The Right of Way issue is something that refuses to go away despite the existence of a document guiding what should be charged. Presently, nobody is complying with the provision of that document.
“We cannot compel the states governments to charge N145 per meter for fibre. The federal government can, however, meet with the governors and extract a commitment from them to ensure that NEC’s provision is strictly adhered to,” he said.