In a bid to addressing critical industry issues affecting telecommunications operations in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), yesterday met the Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Pantami.
The meeting was orchestrated by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, and in attendance is the ALTON President, Gbenga Adebayo and others.
The issues tabled before the Minister include the problem of denial or exorbitant cost of Right of Way (RoW) by state governments, vandalism of telecoms infrastructure, poor or lack of access to public electricity to run telecoms operations, multiple taxations and regulations, the need for Executive Order to protect telecoms infrastructure, and the need for a national digital policy.
Highlighting the issues, Gbenga Adebayo noted that the challenges remains the biggest issue standing in the way of the accelerated telecoms infrastructure and by extension, broadband development.
Adebayo, who submitted a document detailing issues, solicited the Minister to use his good office to address the issues in view of the significance of telecoms as a central and pivotal infrastructure shaping the economy.
Earlier in his remarks, Danbatta said while the Federal Government, through the Ministry and the NCC, is committed to deepening digital access, the RoW issue, among several others, remains the biggest issue standing in the way of the accelerated telecoms infrastructure and by extension, broadband development.
“So, ALTON is led here today to talk, as a body, about the challenges they are facing as operators in the industry. We also believe that achieving Federal Government’s target of 127,000 kilometers of fibre across the country, which is critical to our broadband and digital economy drive, depends on how these industry issues are addressed,” the EVC said.
Danbatta further commended the Minister ‘for the way and manner he had hit the ground running upon assumption of office’, adding that the Commission facilitated the meeting in order for the operators to ventilate their views to the Minister on various challenges in the industry and as a sequel to the report the Commission already presented to the Minister upon assumption of office.
While responding, the Minister acknowledged the existence of the challenges, disclosing that the Ministry had started making efforts to address the issues through engaging the President and other relevant government agencies.
Pantami revealed that the Ministry is on the verge of developing a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy which will be ready shortly.
“We are already working on some of the issues raised by ALTON. I have had continuous engagements with the President on some of the issues, we would study your submission and begin to address the various issues you have raised. Accordingly, we will also explore better alternatives besides and beyond what ALTON has recommended in its submission to us towards ensuring that the issues are dealt with in the interest of all Nigerians,” he said