Nigeria is to charge operators N145 per metre to lay optical fibre links under plans by government to harmonise infrastructure rollout across the country.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which gave the indication says that apart from the N145 per metre fibre charge, N20 will also be charged for maintenance.
A key document being reviewed by the National Economic Council contains the plan and when approved, will give operators a major relief from multiple taxation says Professor Garba Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman at Nigeria Communications Commission, who disclosed this at the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) Quarterly Seminar Series recently held in Lagos.
The NCC chief says that plans are underway to begin implementation of the provisions of the document.
Danbatta, who was represented by Tony Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at NCC says that, ”we have met with State Governors under the Nigeria Governors Forum, to inform them about the existence of the document.”
According to him, “Kano, Ogun and Kaduna State Governors have promised to help the NCC in providing an enabling environment for telecoms services to grow.”
The NCC Act mandates the Commission to regulate the Nigerian communications sector, but some sister agencies tend to be zealous in trying to help the NCC and in the process create unnecessary difficulties for operators.
The NCC Director also says that the telecoms regulator has taken towards stemming over-regulation in the telecoms sector to create environments that will favor operators and thus be able to contribute more in terms of investment, employment and taxes.
According to him, “for over a decade, some of the most intractable problems of the industry were the discordant relationship among government agencies. NCC has reached out to other agencies and State Governors with the view of convincing them to create an enabling Telecoms environment.”
Ojobo adds that “currently, the NCC has met the Governors of Kano, Ogun and Kaduna State and they have promised their support towards helping the Commission create and sustain an enabling environment that would allow telecoms operators and services to grow.”
According to him NCC seeks to create accessible and affordable telecoms services, while creating and nurturing an industry that serves the needs of our people.
The NCC image maker also says that the Commission has no plans to regulate Over-The-Top Services (OTT), such as whatsapp, Skype, Facebook, BBM and YouTube usage in Nigeria.
The NCC EVC observes that that various actions from multiple regulations negates the operators’ efforts and degrades the quality of their network and services.
Danbatta says that in spite of seemingly convoluted activities which affect the health of the industry, there is a good story to tell about the sector.
He points at the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) early this month that telecoms contributed N1.58trn to GDP in the Second Quarter, which he said represents an increase from the previous quarter.
The growth in telecoms subscriber data based on the NCC monthly record as among the good story to tell about the sector, he adds.
“Our monthly data collection shows that the industry remains quite strong & defiant in the face of very challenging times. Active lines hovered on 150,262,066 lines within the same period & Internet subscriptions for June, 2016 stood at 92, 181, 178,” according to the EVC.
Also speaking at the event, Mr. Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), represented By Engr. Anthony Nwosu, First Vice President of the association, says that the telecoms sector today has witnessed incursions into the regulatory space by other agencies including state and local governments, apart from the NCC, which he says is the statutory authority charged with the regulation of telecoms services in Nigeria.
“These agencies impose levies and fees on service providers for location towers, right of way, and make other laws that govern infrastructure in their domains. The acts of these agencies have sometimes led to indiscriminate shut down of base stations and operator sites, leading to disruption of services,” the ATCON President says.
“The issue of multiple taxation and concurrent regulation in the telecoms industry has been a source of concern to industry players and a major source of friction between service providers and the intervening agencies. In some cases, the matters have ended up in the law courts, and till date the issues appear unresolved”, ATCON says.
The ATCON President believes that the incessant shutdown of telecoms facilities by multiple regulatory agencies have an adverse effect on the quality of services offered by operators in the Nigerian telecoms industry.
“The outages occasioned by these shut downs negatively impact quality of service indices such as reduced call completion rates, increased call drop rates, increased voice quality impairment, and transmission quality impairment. The overall implication of these is heightened consumer dissatisfaction with the quality of services provided by operators”, ATCON told the event attendees.
According to him, the incessant over regulation of the Nigerian telecommunications sector may lead to the inability of players in that sector to roll out services promptly to meet the targets in the National Broadband Plan.
Pointing at death or extinction of telecoms companies as a result of over regulation, the ATCON President says that “if over regulation of the industry is not checked, some of the service providers may be forced to close shop, and this would affect the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP.”
According to the ATCON chief, some telecoms service providers may be forced to relocate their services to neighboring countries. Such closure of companies or reduction in scope of activities may lead to job losses and worsen the unemployment situation in the country.
While speaking on the solutions to over-regulation in the sector, the ATCON President says that “there is the need for NCC to strengthen its relationships with each state of the Federation and their relevant agencies to ensure a smooth operating environment for the delivery of telecoms services.”
According to him, there is need for greater collaboration of industry associations and stakeholders to ensure a conducive operating business environment for telecoms companies operating in Nigeria. There is also need for increased enlightenment and awareness on the importance of telecoms services to national growth and development.