By Angela Nkwocha
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has affirmed readiness to collaborate with Prosperity Fund-Nigeria Project, a UK Government inspired prosperity fund project for Nigeria to aid digital inclusion.
This was made known during a virtual forum conference held recently on Right of Way (RoW) Reforms and Planning Permits for Masts and Towers in Nigeria organised by the British Government’s Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme in collaboration with NCC and the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
The conference was aimed at identifying pragmatic policy, legal and regulatory Right of Way and site build approval processes for adoption by all governments in Nigeria, to facilitate the uniform enhancement of broadband access and availability and the attainment of aspirations of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2019 and the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025. It is also part of the UK government’s technical assistance package in advancing policy and regulatory reforms on RoW in the telecoms sector, with the aim of promoting inclusive and sustainable digital access in the country.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, represented by the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management (ECSM), Barr. Adeleke Adewolu while restating the Commission’s readiness to collaborate with the UK government lauded them for championing reforms on RoW to deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.
“The NCC on its part is ready to collaborate with the UK Government Prosperity Fund-Nigeria Project in reforming the administration of RoW and planning permits in Nigeria. The Technical Assistance on RoW reforms will assist in our quest for deepening broadband penetration in Nigeria. NCC is willing and ready to advance the reforms noted in the technical study and will collaborate with stakeholders to effect it in the short, medium and long term,” he said.
Danbatta while appreciating some of the challenges faced by the state government said it will collaborate with the state government to overcome the challenges.
“We note, the short, medium, and long-term actions set up in the report and we will work assiduously to their achievement. We also, encourage our service providers to appreciate some of the challenges faced by the state government and hope this will enable them to collaborate with the state government to effectively overcome the challenges”.
He added that “in maximizing the benefits of digital transformation, resilient Telecoms Infrastructure is the key enabler in delivering ICT services. Therefore, this technical conference is apt, as it provides effective solutions to Right of Way (RoW) challenges amongst others.”
In his key note address the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami noted that the Right of Way Levy was one of the major obstacles to enhancing broadband penetration in Nigeria, revealing that this informed his decision to engage with the Nigeria Governors Forum and address the Right of Way Issue that had lingered for over a decade.
On her part, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing commended the Minister for developing the National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 which was launched and Unveiled by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Managing Counsel of Greenfields Law and a leading telecommunications policy, law and regulation practitioner, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro, said:
“The study consulted widely, obtained and processed information from virtually all segments of the telecommunications industry including service providers, policy advocacy groups, consumer associations, relevant agencies and officials of state governments across the six geo-political zones while also noting best practices around Right of Way and site build permitting in other countries.”
The conference had in attendance state governors and chief executive officers of telecommunications companies.