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Telecoms Row: Understanding The Economic Gains Of The Digital Order & Dilating On Leo Stan Ekeh's Commentaries

By Martin Okorowu, The Nigerian Voice, Owerri 
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Not many Nigerians are aware of the problems that affect the ability of telecommunication operators and even the regulator to ensure the delivery of good quality service. The industry is faced with numerous woes that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Ministry of Communications Technology, Governments at federal and state levels, operators and other stakeholders have been working to resolve.

Today, the country has over 188, 989, 051 active subscribers as at March 2019 according to NCC. More than half OF that number subscribes to mobile internet service which hovers around 90million. Teledensity has reached more than 96%. The telecom sector contributes more than 10 per cent of the national GDP. In the first quarter of 2019, the contribution of Nigeria's telecommunications industry as share of the country's GDP was 10.11 percent. This is an impressive figure that indicates how critical the telecoms sector has become to national development.

Right of Way legally means “an Easement, a privilege to pass over the land of another, whereby the holder of the easement acquires only a reasonable and usual enjoyment of the property, and the owner of the land retains the benefits and privileges of ownership consistent with the easement.” Right of Way(RoW) as it applies to the telecommunications industry is generally used to denote the land on which telecom companies may lay their telecom infrastructures including connectivity cables.

However, many telecom companies are denied RoW across states in the federation to lay their infrastructures thus, making it difficult for them to meet the obligatory minimum standard for service quality. [Here’s an expert viewpoint: Prince Uchendu]:“Wire line and wireless carriers both require access to rights-of way and support structures(e.g. poles, towers, conduit) in order to build and maintain their networks.

This is the reason why most of our remote areas have challenges of network by service providers and it is something that must follow a legitimate process to accomplish.

Due to the FG's resolve through the Federal Ministry of of Communications & Digital Economy to have a holistic approach to solving this problem, they came up with a new guideline. The new RoW Guidelines pegs the chargeable RoW access fee for laying of ICTSP ducts and cables at N145.0/linear metre and N20.0/linear metre as annual maintenance access fee, subject to periodic reviews at five-year intervals or whenever compelling circumstances demand such reviews.

As at today, about 10 states in Nigeria have complied by either complete waiver or sticking with the N145. A day after the launch of the National Broadway Plan by President Buhari, Gov. Uzodimma signed the executive order reducing charge of RoW in Imo. The first in South East, Nigeria.

The Executive order No. 002, 2020 in Imo significantly reducing Right of Way (ROW) of telecommunication companies in the state from N4500 to N145 per meter was in tandem with federal government policy on Digital Economy.

Gov Uzodimma who signed that order on 20th May 2020, explained that, the reduction was a manifestation of the determination of shared prosperity government to spur the telecommunication companies to further invest in broadband infrastructure so at to trigger ancillary on-line services, especially in the field of education in the state.

According to Gov. Uzodimma, the order further said that government was hopeful that the drastic reduction from N4500 of the broadband ROW to N145 per liner meter of fibre, will accelerate the deployment of affordable, and reliable modern high speed connectivity in the state.

Billionaire Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, the Founder of Zinox Computers & Chairman Zinox Group of Companies, had this to say about Uzodimma's move on ROW;

‘‘I commend the Imo State Governor, His Excellency Gov. Hope Uzodinma, for the uncommon courage, political will and leadership he has shown by being the first governor in the South East to reduce the Right of Way charges.

This decision alone has the potential of encouraging more corporate organizations and strategic investors to make critical investments in the state.

In addition, it is bound to usher in all-round development, especially by helping citizens of Imo State take their rightful places in the contemporary economy as global citizens while enhancing their businesses and lifestyle."

This Executive order on 96% crashing of ROW charge now urges telecommunication companies to now do more investments, appreciating the fact that Imo state plays host to a vibrant youthful demography located in many tertiary institutions, who form the bulk of the end users of their products.

Telecoms no doubts, is an integral part of the modern business world and for the government of Imo to have taken steps to ensure that such order is in place to better her digital economy, it is a big plus for the state under the watch of Gov Uzodimma and for persons like the Zinox Boss dropping of some educative eulogies on this step it speaks foie of the commitment of the shared prosperity government to better the lives of Imo people through technology.

Companies all over the world no doubt have utilized the advancement in technology to revolutionize their day-to-day operations. Efficient telecommunication has significantly helped companies to use their time more appropriately. Time has always been an essential element in any organization's success. It can determine the success or failure of a business.

With improved efficiency in communication, flexibility in working space, improvement in team work, boost in customer relations and services as well as time & cost management are all guaranteed.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Martin Okorowu, The Nigerian Voice, Owerri  and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."