By Martin Ekpeke
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is on the verge of inking a partnership deal with the Minister of Federal Capital territory, Hon. Mohammed Musa Bello on the concept of smart city.
The deal, when finally sealed will see Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city has robust telecommunications and ICT infrastructure that will ultimately lead to better security, better environment and control, including transportation infrastructure, which could be integrated to provide smart solutions for the city residents.
The idea was disclosed when the telecommunications regulator’s Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, yesterday, led a team of the Commission to pay a courtesy visit to the FCT Minister in Abuja.
“Honourable Minister, a new phenomenon that will be of interest to your administration is the concept of smart cities. The Commission is part of ongoing discussions about how to implement smart cities in Abuja and other parts of the country. When this is done, the FCT will no distant future belong to a class of cities, where the futuristic Internet of Things is already becoming a reality,” Danbatta said.
The former University Lecturer admitted that given the status of the FCT today in the scheme of things, it ought to be the city with the best telecommunications connectivity, but the reverse is the case.
He noted that the Federal Capital Territory appears to have some of the most challenging issues with Quality of Service when compared with other cities across the country as a result of some unresolved challenges.
The challenges, according to him include Collocation of Telecommunication Base Stations in the FCT, where operators are willing to collocate but we are yet to receive collocation guidelines from the FCT.
Others are the 2006 fee regime of the FCTA, where it was agreed in a meeting between operators, FCTA and NCC in 2006 that the FCTA and NCC will meet and harmonize positions on the astronomical increase in fees for building permits imposed by FCTA. This has not been done and operators have continued to receive bills from the Administration based on the 2006 rates.
Danbatta also highlighted the issue of retrospective FCTA laws that affect telecom facilities, arguing that any law or policy by the FCTA that affect telecom facilities should not be made retroactive.
Other impediments include activities of road construction companies in the FCT, delayed approval for installation of base stations/fibre deployments and implementation of National Economic Council Resolution on Multiple Taxation, Levies and Charges on ICT Infrastructure in Nigeria.