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NCC: Why telcos still face delays on RoW approvals

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NCC: Why telcos still face delays on RoW approvals

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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