The decision of some State governments to increase the Right of Way (RoW) charge for telecommunication lines by 1,200 percent may force the telecom operators to increase the prices of data and calls, sources have said. The Right of Way charges by states are in contradiction to the resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC) in 2013.

NEC had set up a Committee comprising state governors and ministers to review multiple taxations in the telecommunications industry. The Committee after consultations harmonized the taxes applicable to broadband related activities. The Committee agreed to the uniform RoW charge of N145.00 per linear meter of fibre.

In October 2019, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, wrote to the Governors, drawing their attention to these resolutions and soliciting their support towards realizing the National Digital Economy by fast-tracking the deployment of broadband infrastructure to provide internet access across rural areas. Despite this, the state governments have gone ahead to increase the charges on Right of Way beyond N145.

A top official of one of the telecom companies told our reporter yesterday that the only option left for the operators is to increase call and data tariffs noting that the governments were insensitive to the plight of operators. Another operator who also spoke on condition of anonymity said gains of the telecoms sector were being reversed by overzealous officials.

Meanwhile, the minister yesterday frowned at the state governments’ disregard of the RoW charge agreement. “We received with dismay the decision of some states of the Federation to increase the Right of Way charges in disregard of the resolutions reached by the National Economic Council (NEC)’’, he said in a statement. He said it was disheartening 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, he said, impact negatively on the efforts being made by the Federal Government. “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 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,” Pantami said.