Anambra State government has started the implementation of zero charges on Right-of-Way per linear meter. By implication, Anambra has become the first State in the Southeastern region of Nigeria to implement the waiver of the per linear meter Right of Way (RoW) charges as opposed to the N145 per linear metre recommended by the National Economic Council (NEC) in 2020.
In a chat with ICT Journalists in Lagos, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata (CFA), the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Anambra State ICT Agency, said the move is in line with the ‘Everything Technology and Technology Everywhere’ vision of the Governor, Charles Soludo.
According to him, the ICT Agency working in partnership with GICL has deployed about 200 kilometres of fibre optic cables under the first phase of Anambra, targeted at Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government (MDAs), schools and other clusters.
He added that the project will also include WiFi Hotspot rollout to Government offices, schools and communities to diversify the economy, leveraging digital services for eGovernment, commerce, education and innovation.
The Anambra ICT Agency boss added that the implementation of the Right of Way charges removal by the State Government is the first step to a digital economy that will encourage key investors, innovators, and businesses to the state.
“His Excellency, Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo has always demonstrated determination to turn Anambra State into a digitally driven economy. The broadband drive is one of the many ways to do it and at the same time, it connects to other plans. Yes, because without connectivity eGovernment programmes would become a mirage”.
According to him, the African digital landscape is changing at a rapid rate and Anambra State is no different. The Governor approved the implementation of the zero charges on Right of Way because he understands the enormous benefits.
“We are partnering with GICL which is giving us a lot of connectivity capacity that we are hopeful will leapfrog the State’s digital economy agenda. This will power the Governor’s lodge and by extension, a local government and a university, as pilot”, he explains.
Why this matters
The battle for equitable costing of the right of way in Nigeria has been a long time coming. The Right of Way is a levy paid to state governments to approve the passing of broadband fibre cables through their domains.
The 2013, the NEC spelt out the responsibilities of all levels of Government in order to ensure smooth operations and foster broadband penetration across the country. The agreement detailed the fees to be paid by telecommunications operators for Right-of-Way across states to be N145 per meter.
In 2018, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) called for a review of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU signed between the Federal Government, State Governments and telecom operators on the RoW. According to Executive Vice Chairman, Umar Danbatta, this is because State Governments have placed multiple taxes on telecom operators, resulting in poor quality of service.
According to a report by Thisday in 2020, over 14 governors hiked the RoW fees in their states to between N3,000 and N6,000. For instance, the Lagos State Government insisted that it will continue to charge telecom companies N1,500 per linear metre. According to the state agency, the RoW charge pegged at N145 by the NEC in 2013 was merely a suggestion.
For emphasis, at N145 RoW, a telecoms company will be able to complete 10% distance (1km instead of 10km). This, in turn, will significantly reduce the broadband penetration speed across Nigeria.
But, following a meeting between then Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), there was an agreement to reverse the Right of Way (RoW) charges for telcos to N145 per linear metre. So far, this has been implemented by Kaduna, Katsina, Plateau, Ekiti, Kwara and Anambra state.
Other efforts by the Anambra ICT agency
CFA also said the Agency has continued to standardize the State Government’s Digital Assets by moving all Government websites to www.anambrastate.gov.ng. He said that his agency has initiated a Statewide migration exercise of all Government digital assets to the Internet domain name anambrastate.gov.ng.
“Prior to the Soludo administration, Government digital assets were scattered all over the Internet, with different domain names and on different servers. Today, most MDAs have been brought under the standard domain anambrastate.gov.ng in line with Federal Government policies”, amongst other achievements.
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