Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, has urged State Governments to embrace dialogue as means to find lasting solutions to the trending issue of Right of Way Charges.
The Association expects more State Governors to accept the notion that reduced RoW charges benefits their citizens by creating more jobs that leads to more PAYE taxes into the State’s coffers.
These are contained in a reaction by the ATCON President, Engineer Olusola Teniola, to TechEconomy.ng’s questions concerning the alleged increase in price of Right of Way Charges per linear meter by about 14 States in Nigeria.
He told TecEconomy.ng that the if the States insists on continuing with the new charges, the country may witness some setbacks with regards the digital economy pursuit.
When asked about the Association’s position on the trending issue, Teniola, said, “The reality on ground is for continued dialogue with all Governors that the development of our country will only happen when we balance the immediate need for revenue generation versus building and preparing a nation for the future which is digital”.
Also asked if the moves by the States will take the country to square one with regards deployment of broadband infrastructure, he responded this way: “Not at all. The dialogue I referred to previously is continuous and begun over 8 years ago with Dr Omobola Johnson when she was Minister of Communications and Technology.
“Then she achieved the buy-in of a few governors most especially the then Lagos Governor Fashola Babatunde who spearheaded the momentum to drop RoW prices to enable affordable roll-out of optic fiber infrastructure. Now we have more Governors accepting the notion that reduced RoW charges benefits their citizens by creating more jobs that leads to more PAYE taxes into the State’s coffers.
The ATCON President also suggested how the issue regarding RoW can be resolved such that all stakeholders would be on same page.
He said that “Continuous dialogue and wider stakeholder engagement right down from the Presidency, state governors and MDAs. The state governors are key and critical to the buy-in of this as they face the challenge of IGR to fund their state budgets.
With regards expected impact on the much anticipated document on new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, he said “It places a particular challenge to the new broadband plan of 2020-2025 in that this issue of RoW was raised in the previous NBP 2013-2018 with suggestions and recommendations as to how to achieve a unified RoW price, process and permits that supports the NBP objectives. Without a clear cut position on the costs of RoW the Digital Economy will not become a reality for a very long time in Nigeria.
“We already have evidence of a digital divide within the country let alone the widening gap in between our youth in Nigeria and their peers in the global world. The future workforce is going to be a digital knowledge based one. We cannot afford to be depriving our youth of their future.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has yet to react to the report about the States’ moves to implement about 1200% increase in the Right of Way charges.