The governors of the 36 states of the federation have unanimously agreed to reverse the Right of Way (RoW) charges for telecoms facilities from the planned N6, 000 to N145 per linear metre.
The governors, who have been under intense pressure from the federal government and telecommunication companies, agreed to harmonise their charges with that of the federal government after a meeting on Wednesday night in Abuja with Isa Pantami, the minister of communications and digital economy.
The meeting was part of efforts to address the lingering issue of RoW charges in a bid to deepen broadband penetration in the country and promote a digital economy.
No fewer than 14 states had increased RoW charges from the initial fee of between N300 to N500 per linear metre to between N3,000 and N6,000 per linear metre.
The RoW charge on federal roads is N145 per linear metre.
Some of the agencies and ministries include the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA), State Information Technology Agency (SITA) of Ondo, Cross River State Infrastructure Safety and Regulatory Agency (CRISRA), Kogi State Environmental Protection Board and Kano State Urban Planning and Development Authority.
Others are: Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KSIRS), Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), Osun State Ministry of Environment and Sanitation, Anambra State Internal Revenue Services, Enugu State Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Adamawa State Ministry of Environment, Imo State Environmental Transformation Commission (Imo ENTRACO), Kebbi State Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals and Gombe State Internal Revenue Board.
Some of the states have reportedly refused to collect the old rates for RoW and were no longer issuing RoW licences to telcos.
But the federal government condemned the hike, describing the action of the states as a disregard to the RoW Charge Agreement reached by the National Economic Council (NEC).
However, Wednesday’s meeting, where the issue was resolved, was attended by state governors, under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), chaired by Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State governor.
Others in attendance were Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Kahifu Inuwa, the director-general of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the Chairperson of the Presidential Committee on National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), Funke Opeke.
The resolution followed a presentation made by the minister during the meeting, where he discussed the many benefits of broadband penetration, if telecoms operators were allowed to lay their broadband fibre optic cables in different states.
According to a statement by the ministry of communications and digital economy, and signed by Femi Adeluyi, the technical assistant on information technology to the minister, the minister noted that one of the key benefits is the rapid growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country that increases its broadband penetration.
He added: “He 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 response, the governors acknowledged the benefits of broadband penetration and the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, stated that the minister should consider the matter resolved. There will no longer be any need to appeal to the governors on the issue of RoW.