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Nigeria’s 30% broadband target shaky

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Nigeria’s 30% broadband target shaky

Eight months to the end of 2018, there are strong indications that Nigeria would not meet its 30 per cent broadband penetration target in the year. New Telegraph gathered that failure of government to remove some of the obstacles to fast broadband deployment highlighted in the five year-plan unveiled in 2013 has been the bane of the target. In the plan, the government had listed multiple taxation and Right of Way as some of the key obstacles and also highlighted steps it would take to remove all the impediments in the course of implementing the five-year plan. However, operators are still facing same challenges as at today and solutions seems not to be at sight. With penetration currently put at 22 per cent, stakeholders are worried that the country might not move beyond that point this year as operators are getting choked with multiple taxation and high cost of Right of Way.

The feeling among the stakeholders is that the government does not really understand the bigger picture of what ubiquitous broadband would mean for the nation’s economy, hence, it is not being given serious attention. According to the Chief Executive Officer of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Mr Rudman Muhammed, Nigerian government has not taken the issue of broadband with economic outlook. “With what we are seeing currently in the country with different kinds of these taxes being imposed on telcos and some state governments even shutting down base stations, I don’t think we can achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration this year.” he said.

Muhammed added that the fragmented system of government in the country would also make it difficult to have a unified tax regime that would enable operators plan for their infrastructure rollout. “Currently, an operator can’t really predict how much he has to pay to lay cable in a particular area because states charge differently and for different things from the genuine to the ridiculous. But the problem is that you go to one state, they have this and that taxes, the other states have other taxes and that is why we are currently having 38 different taxes imposed on telecom operators across the states. Some are even charging for the generator fumes,” he noted.

The IXPN chief said for the country to achieve the target, there must be government policy to reverse the current trend of multiple taxation and remove all obstacles to Right of Way to create the enabling environment for the operators. Mohammed lamented that all states in the country were only looking at how they can shore up their internally generated revenue from the telcos, without knowing that they are depriving the people of huge economic tool.

“For us to move forward, the state, local and Federal Governments and the regulators and all stakeholders need to come together to harmonise all the taxes and laws that we have to make them suitable for the telcos and to make them acceptable for all those stakeholder so that by the time you start, everybody is in agreement. “For example, if they harmonise the cost of right of way and eliminate certain taxes so that wherever you go in the country, same thing is applicable, operators would be able to deploy faster. We need to come together and solve this problem for the common good of Nigerians,” he said

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