Says, high RoW rates prevent states from harnessing the potential of ubiquitous broadband and achieve improved broadband penetration
Ekiti State’s recent moves towards reduction of the Right of Way (RoW) rate will contribute towards ensuring effective broadband coverage is available to at least 90% of the population at an affordable price by 2025, says the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke.
Opeke, who chaired the New National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 Committee, made this remark in an email interview with TechEconomy.ng in response to the Executive Order No. 007 of 2020 on ‘Right of Way Charges on Telecommunications Infrastructure’ that was signed by the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on the 12th of May, 2020.
The Executive Order reducing the Right of Way charges related to laying broadband or any other telecommunications infrastructures from N4,500 to N145 per meter, is in line with the State’s effort towards becoming a knowledge and innovation hub in the country.
Well, the new national broadband plan has shown interests in government in collaboration with the private sector to increase broadband penetration to 70 percent by 2025 in order to give concrete expression to Federal Government’s commitment to making Nigeria a truly digital economy.
So, how does the Executive Oder signed by the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Fayemi, connects to the actualization of this plan?
On the other hand, for States that would retain the hiked rates, ranging from N5,000 to N6,000 per meter, what do they stand to lose in the long-run?
In this brief interview, the MainOne CEO shared her views thus:
As someone who has been vocal with regards issues related to RoW charges, how do you feel about the news from Ekiti State?
Opeke: We would like to commend the Ekiti State government for reducing the RoW charges for laying telecommunications infrastructure in the state. We believe this move will enable the deployment of fast and efficient infrastructure in Ekiti State which will ultimately improve broadband penetration, strengthen the state’s technology ecosystem and drive innovation to the region.
Do you think other States will actually follow the steps of Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State Governor) even though he is the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum?
Opeke: I believe a lot of forward-thinking states are moving in this direction. This is a laudable initiative which would benefit the country at large especially in these crucial times where social distancing is the new norm. Technology adoption has become a critical driver for economic growth with the internet playing an important role in driving online activities from education to e-governance, religion, financial services, logistics, health care etc. We hope and would like to encourage other states to follow the steps of Dr. Kayode Fayemi to ensure that citizens have access to a world of opportunities online and avoid getting left behind.
For the State that may be contemplating whether to go that route or retain the high charges of about N5k to N6K, what are they going to lose in the long-run?
Opeke: States that retain high charges of RoW will lose the opportunity to have private investors widely deploy capital in their States for broadband infrastructure and to improve socio-economic development, amongst others.
High RoW rates prevent states from harnessing the potential of ubiquitous broadband and achieve improved broadband penetration.
This will result in the state becoming unattractive for new business ventures and limits the possibilities of job creation, stifle access to quality healthcare services, e-Commerce platforms and online education applications for the citizens of the state.
Few months ago, the New National Broadband Committee 2020-2025 which you chaired, submitted your report, how do you relate the recommendations in that report to what Ekiti State Government has done recently?
Opeke: The Ekiti State Government has taken a step in the direction of helping us achieve the goals stipulated in the National Broadband Plan.
The reduction of the RoW rate in the state will contribute towards ensuring effective broadband coverage is available to at least 90% of the population at an affordable price by 2025.
Do you foresee the implementation of the Committee’s recommendation coming so soon?
Opeke: We anticipate the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations will come sooner than expected with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis which has pushed the world to embrace digital transformation. This is our new reality and for Nigeria to remain competitive on the global stage, we must invest in and enable pervasive broadband penetration.