Governors resolve to address Right of Way challenges

By Na'ankwat Dariem

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The State Governors under the auspices of the Governors’ Forum have resolved to address the lingering issue of Right of Way (RoW) charges in a bid to deepen broadband penetration and promote a Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria.

The resolution followed a presentation made by Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami during the meeting with members of the Governors’ Forum in Abuja, Nigeria.

He was accompanied to the meeting by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Professor Umar Danbatta, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, Kashifu Inuwa and Funke Opeke, Chairperson of the Presidential Committee on National Broadband Plan (2020-2025).

There had been uproar in the sector following hike of RoW charges by more than 1200% in some states which led the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to appeal to governors to alter the decision or risk undermining the country’s goal for digital inclusion.

Dr Pantami enumerated many benefits that an increase in broadband access can have on the economy of the various States.

According to him, ”one of the key benefits is the rapid growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) of any country that increases its broadband penetration.”

2013 resolutions
The Minister urged the State Governors to adopt the 2013 resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC) which agreed on a maximum RoW charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre.

In addition to the discussion on the RoW, the Minister also discussed the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) which was unveiled by the President, Muhammadu Buhari on the 28th of November, 2019.

Dr Pantami urged the State Governors to key into the Policy and Strategy.

Appreciating members of the Governors Forum for their support in resolving the RoW challenge, he informed them of the plan of the Nigerian Government to ”help the States with a Digital Economy Strategy, through Policy, Digital Skills and other areas of intervention.”

The Governors acknowledged the benefits of broadband penetration.

The Chairman of the Forum and the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi said the Minister should consider the matter resolved as there would no longer be any need to appeal to the Governors on the issue of RoW.

 

Mercy Chukwudibere