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NCC: Why telcos still face delays on RoW approvals

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Telecoms regulator says it is working with state governors to ease infrastructure deployment for broadband growth

Telecoms operators in Nigeria continue to face delays in Right of Way (RoW) approvals because state governments are yet to understand the immediate and long-term socio-economic benefits of having pervasive telecoms infrastructure in their states, Director, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Tony Ojobo, has disclosed.

Ojobo stated this during an interview at a dinner organised by the national leadership of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations at an event in Lagos, where he was recognised as Public Relations Personality of the Year 2017.

He explained that the RoW problem had been largely driven by desire of the state government to focus on telecoms to boost their internally-generated revenues (IGRs).

According to him, “the year 2017 has been a mixture of the good and some challenges and some of these challenges are ones that we have actually outlined during some of our stakeholders’ fora held at different parts of the country.

He said despite years of campaign to sensitise governments at all levels on the dangers of building hindrances for fast deployment of telecoms infrastructure in their respective states, “we still have challenges of deployment of base stations in the states because the state governments were interested in their internally generated revenue (IGR), and so, a lot of approvals are delayed by the government in terms of citing of base stations.”

He said for the same reasons, “we have also had cases of base stations shutdown; we have had issues of RoW denial and the reluctance of different agencies at the various levels to give to give approval as quickly as possible for deployment of telecoms infrastructure. These are some of the things we faced in 2017.”

He, however, noted that the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta, had made a case at the Governor’s Forum, where he made a presentation on how these challenges were contributing to the poor quality of service (QoS) in the country.

He said despite all the teething challenges, the country still needed to ensure robust and pervasive broadband penetrations towards achieving the 30 per cent broadband penetration in the country.

“More importantly is the need for us to have more pervasive rollout of base stations so that we can narrow the gaps and blind spots in areas that we do not have coverage so that the issue of access and even that of broadband penetration can be realised.

“Unless we do that, we will keep having challenges in being able to have met up with government’s policy of achieving 30 per cent broadband penetration target by 2018. Next year is 2018 already and we expect that we shall achieve that target,” he said.

Ojobo explained that while the challenges linger on, the commission has been working with the state governors by sensitising them on the dangers of their ongoing practice and that they are now beginning to appreciate the importance of having robust telecoms infrastructure in their states.

“Through this effort, we are hoping that cases of RoW denial, base stations shutdown and other such challenges will disappear completely. We believe that in 2018, some of these challenges would have become a thing of the past. All we need to continue doing is mounting sensitization,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Ojobo has said that the need to boost industry sensitisation towards addressing key industry issues, especially as they affect telecoms consumers, has informed the launch of the Nigeria Year of Telecoms Consumer 2017 campaign.

“We have initiated the campaign to make sure that we keep issues that have to do with consumers in the front burner, addressing them one after the other,” he said.

Till date, Ojobo said the commission had carried out a lot of awareness around  the Do Not Disturb (DND) toll-free line after the NCC realised the subscribers were not activating the DND platform to curb unwanted text messages.

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TCIP Customs explains cargo clearance delays at port

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The Tin Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has said the recent in cargo clearance being witnessed by importers and Customs Brokers at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos is because the NCS Internet Server was down thus impeding cargo documents processing.

This was disclosed by the Tin Can Island Customs Public Relations Officer, CSP Tony Ejesieme during a chat with the Sunday Telegraph on Wednesday at the port city of Apapa.

Ejesieme noted that the internet network breakdown as experienced by the Service could cause delay at anytime and was not the fault of the NCS but that of a bad weather.

The PRO, who admitted that there was delay in cargo release, said the command had not captured any importers for cargo release but was optimistic that the network would surge back and cargo clearance processing would commence immediately.

“We have not been able to work since morning as no importers have been captured. This is another delay; issuing debit note has become a problem. But the network will certainly come back and we will commence work immediately,’’ said he.

According to him, the major reasons for delay were non-compliance with import guidelines, wrong classification and declaration by importers, and lack of working scanners.

He, however, absolved the Service of any complicity and maintained that the NCS works based on procedure. ‘’Whatever we are doing is based on procedure and in accordance with the import laws. It is true that there is delay; if there are issues of infraction, there will be delay,’’ he said.

Ejesieme also caused by lack of scanners, saying that all scanners in all the ports in Lagos have broken down completely except only one in Apapa which could not handle all cargo in the port and that is why many cargos are routed to physical examination.

‘’Scanners are not working; only one is working in Apapa, no one in Tin Can. The issue of scanners has to be settled and we have engaged government on it.’’

Advising importers and customs agents to adhere to the import guidelines, he said that the security of nation as the nation approaches the general elections in 2019 would not be compromised as the Service is working with other government agencies to protect the territorial boundaries of the nation.

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UBA Foundation reading through regions in Africa

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As part of its mission to improve the lives of communities in which the United Bank for Africa operates, UBA Foundation said it has continued to encourage African youths to adopt the culture of reading through its ‘Read Africa’ initiative.

Read Africa aims to rekindle the reading culture amongst young Africans. Designed and introduced in 2011 by the UBA Foundation, the initiative has donated hundreds of thousands of books to African schools since its inception.

This past week, The Foundation took its initiative to the francophone city of Libreville to the students of the George MABIGNATH high school in Gabon.

The launch of Read Africa in Gabon saw in attendance, the author of the selected book Sidonie, written by famous Gabonese writer Chantal Magalie MBAZOO.

It was a colorful ceremony that witnessed the CEO of the Foundation, Bola Atta reading to and interacting with the students in high energy in the presence of their Principal, Mrs. Boudounghou Biboutou Isabelle and other staff members.

Bola Atta summarized the Foundation’s initiative saying, “At the UBA Foundation, we are committed to improving the lives of the youths on the continent and one of the ways we can achieve this is to help you read more. I am here to talk to you a little about the importance of reading and how it can radically change your life. Reading encourages you to dream, it expands your knowledge, your vocabulary. It is a path to achieving your ambitions”.

 

Chioma Mang, the CEO of UBA Gabon also reiterated the mission of UBA and emphasized the bank’s commitment to the Gabonese community. “ I love children and I am happy to be here with you all today. I’d like to encourage you to read very well so that you can reach great heights in your life like me. UBA is going to be there for you all the way. You can count on us”, she said.

 

The Read Africa initiative then moved on to Zambia to the Horizon Secondary School in Lusaka where the Director in the ministry of higher education in charge of Vocation, Education and Training, Mr. Alex Simumba, thanked UBA and the Foundation for the good work that is being done across Africa. He said, “To UBA Foundation, we thank you for your support to the institution today. We welcome this and many more collaboration in the field of literacy and other higher education programmes. We also further encourage other private sector organisations to take a keen interest in such programmes because the youths who are receiving these literary materials will be benefitting greatly from them,” he said.

 

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Shell has disbursed N1.88bn to GMoU clusters in Delta State

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The General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Mr. Igo Weli has said that Shell Petroleum Development Company, (SPDC) is still active in Delta State noting that the oil giant has executed a lot of projects in the state.

According to him, the oil giant has disbursed a total sum of N1.88 billion to Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) in clusters.

Igo Weli, who disclosed this when he spoke with newsmen in Warri on Thursday, revealed that the GMoU funding covers the three clusters currently active in Delta State since the inception of the concept in 2006, adding that Cluster Development Boards (CDBs) like their counterparts in other parts of the Niger Delta, are implementing health and educational projects among others.

During the media presentation of the 2018 Shell Nigeria Briefing Notes to Journalists, he also disclosed that Shell has established a Professorial Chair at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE,) as it continues to operate in the state and contribute to its development.

Weli explained that the Professorial Chair in Light Weight Automobile Engine Development was activated at FUPRE in December last year and is the latest of six established by SPDC JV, noting that the Chair at Effurun is expected to contribute to the growth of local content in Nigeria’s automobile industry.

He added that in a bid to boost employment especially among youths, more than 700 young men and women have benefited from Shell’s LiveWIRE initiative between 2003 and 2017.

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