14 state governments have reportedly decided to increase the Right of Way (RoW) charges levied on telecoms to lay optic fibre along state roads by 1000%. And this is coming barely four days after the minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Pantami ordered state governors to comply with the National Economic Council’s (NEC) resolution on RoW.
According to him, “All the Governors had agreed to the harmonisation on the RoW charges and efforts are being made to ensure the policy is respected.”
The states involved include Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Imo, Gombe, and Kebbi. The RoW levy supposedly increased from between ₦300 and ₦500 per linear meter to between ₦3000 and ₦6000 per linear meter. Apparently, this is a huge contrast to the ₦142 naira charged per linear meter on Federal roads.
However, it cannot be confirmed as at press time if this move resulted from minister Patanmi’s order. But affected agencies do not seem to find this appropriate.
The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), for instance, expresses its displeasure about this development.
ALTON’s secretary, Gbolahan Awonuga, informed Techpoint in an interview that these state governments put the reason around revenue generation.
Given the cost implication of covering hundreds of miles, service providers could indirectly experience entry barriers into locations currently outside their reach or refuse to maintain existing fibre optic lines. This may also affect Nigeria’s consolidated Internet market.
Conversely, if telcos decide to comply, it may eventually result in an increase in voice calls and data tariffs as stated by ALTON’s chairman in an interview.