Nigeria: Kwara Govt Slashes RoW Fee for Telecom Firms

The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has directed the slashing of the Right of Way (RoW) fee for telecommunications firms (telcos) from N5,500 per linear metre to N1 per kilometre of fibre.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the state's Commissioner for Communication, Murtala Olanrewaju, on Sunday.

The RoW charge is the levy paid to state governments for the laying of optic fibre by telecoms operators.

Before now, operators were paying N5,500 per linear metre as the fee for laying fibre cables in the state to strengthen their digital connections.

The commissioner noted that the revised fee which takes effect immediately is the second lowest in Nigeria after Kaduna.

"Governor AbdulRazaq has directed that the RoW fee be slashed to N1 only per kilometre, a decision designed to deepen digital penetration in Kwara State, jerk up the state's ease of doing business ratings, and ease people's access to the internet and other digital communication even in the remotest part of the state."

"Apart from driving up investment in the sector, the long-term effects of this significant step such as strengthening access to digital communications and bringing more businesses to the hinterlands cannot be quantified," Mr Olanrewaju quoted Governor AbdulRazaq.

Speaking on the reason for reducing the fee, Mr Olanrewaju explained that internet and broadband penetration has a direct correlation with economic development.

"A study carried out by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on Africa reported that a 10 per cent broadband penetration would lead to a 2.5% increment of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.

"The National Economic Council (NEC) had recently resolved to encourage technological advancement as a way to fast track economic development in Nigeria."

He stated that the resolution was hinged on the need to create a favourable business environment for telecommunication companies and to further deepen broadband penetration for social and economic development.

Hike in other states

In January, Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Imo, Kebbi and Gombe increased the RoW fees for telecoms infrastructure.

This newspaper reported how the federal government expressed dismay over the increment by the states, saying it contravened an agreement reached at the National Economic Council (NEC).

The communications minister, Isa Pantami, in a statement from the ministry said the increment is detrimental to the government's digital economy agenda.

Mr Pantami said it was "disheartening to hear that some states have decided to disregard these resolutions and have, in some cases, increased the RoW charges by over 1,200%. This will no doubt impact negatively on the efforts' being made by the federal government.

"Mr Pantami discussed the many benefits that an increase in broadband access can have on the economy of the various states," the statement said.

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