Isa Pantami

Isa Pantami, the minister for communications and digital economy, has urged states that increased their right of way (RoW) charges to reverse their decision because the additional cost will be transferred to customers.

The RoW charge is the levy paid to state governments for laying of optic fibre on state roads.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the minister expressed dismay at the decision of states to increase right of way charges; disregarding resolutions reached by the national economic council.

According to the minister, a 2013 committee set up by NEC had agreed to a uniform right of way (RoW) charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre.

The committee, which comprised of ministers and state governors was set up at the time to review the issues of multiple taxations in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria and its impact.

“It may also be recalled that in October 2019, we had written to all the state governors, drawing their attention to these resolutions and soliciting their support and collaboration towards the realisation of the national digital economy by fast-tracking the deployment of broadband infrastructure for the provision of affordable internet services to underserved and unserved areas,” Isa Pantami said.

“It is 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. It is established that there is a strong correlation between a country’s broadband penetration and its gross domestic product (GDP).

“We are therefore calling on all state governors, especially those that have made public their decisions to increase the RoW charges, to reconsider these decisions in the interest of Nigerians as well as for the socio-economic growth and development of the country.

“We also draw their attention to the fact that these decisions, if implemented, will result in an increase in the costs of operations of the telecoms operators which will naturally be passed to the consumers.”

TheCable has earlier reported that 14 states had increased their RoW charges.

The states are Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Imo, Kebbi and Gombe.