Worried about the effect the recent increase in Right of Way ( RoW) charges by some states in the country could have on consumers, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has appealed to the concerned states to reverse their charges in the interest of customers.
The RoW charges are to fees paid by telcos to the state governments for the permission to install optic fibre on roads.
Pantami, in a statement on Tuesday, said it was disheartening that despite the resolutions reached by the National Economic Council, some states have increased RoW charges by over 1200 per cent.
He said a committee to review the issues of multiple taxations and its effects on Nigeria’s telecommunications industry was set up in 2013 by NEC NEC and a uniform RoW charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre was agreed on.
He added, “It may also be recalled that in October 2019, we had written to all the state governors, drawing their attention to these resolutions and soliciting their support and collaboration towards the realisation of the national digital economy by fast-tracking the deployment of broadband infrastructure for the provision of affordable internet services to underserved and unserved areas.
“It is disheartening to hear that some states have decided to disregard these resolutions and have, in some cases, increased the RoW charges by over 1,200 per cent. This will, no doubt, impact negatively on the efforts being made by the Federal Government. It is established that there is a strong correlation between a country’s broadband penetration and its gross domestic product (GDP).”
The Minister further stated that it was important who have indicated interest to increase RoW charges to have a rethink in the interest of Nigerians for socio-economic growth and the development of the country, adding that a hike in RoW charges would lead to an increase in costs of operations of the telecoms operators which will naturally be passed to consumers.
Earlier, Pantami had told telecommunications operators in the country to resist arbitrary hike of the Right of Way charges by some state governments during an interactive session with journalists.
“We have a NEC resolution that harmonised the charge and all governors are to comply with that agreement. But if you comply with the hike in one place, it is difficult to turn down in another place because the governors are in touch with one another,” he said.
“If you maintain your position and say you will not pay, no governor will want to have his state without mobile coverage. But the problem is you compromise in one place and you go to another place and say you will not compromise.”