Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says constant engagement with telecom stakeholders is key to the roll out of telecom infrastructure and protection.
Mr Sunday Dare, the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, said this at the Stakeholders Parliament on ‘Optimising the Benefits of Telecom Infrastructure in Nigeria” in Lokoja on Thursday.
Represented by Gwa Mohammed, Deputy Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, Dare said that NCC was concerned that progress was being hampered by activities of some state Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which refused to grant required approvals timely.
He said “some state MDAs impose inordinate charges for building approvals and right of way and frequently interfere with the operations of such infrastructure by shutting them down at will.
“When the industry faces challenges of this nature , it is ultimately the citizens that suffer.
“If we were to quantify the monetary impact of the disruptions to communications, security, health and other platforms which rely on these infrastructure, I am sure the national economy would have lost billions of naira.
“Events such as this underscores the need for closer cooperation and consultations between stakeholders in public and private sectors of our economy.”
Dare said that the common objective was service to the citizens and not to allow short term revenue goal to hamper the nation’s ability to leverage technology for growth and development.
Mr Paul Osoro, the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) during his presentation on “Legal Framework for Telecom Infrastructure Rollout” said infrastructure was the platform on which Information Communication Technology (ICT) network thrive.
Osoro, who was represented by Mr Sixtus Onwuka, said that “the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria grants the Federal Government powers to collect National Information Technology Development Levy.
“The state governments also have the power to collect infrastructure maintenance charge, these two are similar types of charges for one person to pay and these are being demanded by two levels of government which amounts to multiple taxation and duplicate levies.”
He outlined these as some of the challenges facing operations and these he said included multiple taxation which hindered telecom development, lands tenure system, the lack of adequate security and vandalism.
“Disruption of infrastructure and poor engineering personnel, the charge of ecological and environmental levy, payment of value added tax and sales tax over the transaction could be streamlined even if it was increased.
“That way, the operator who paid would know that he or she had paid once and for all.”
He commended the NCC for setting up an industry working group over multiple taxation.
Osoro tasked stakeholders to work together to champion the cause for review and harmonisation of technology, information and telecommunication laws.
He said government should improve on measures to protect the telecom infrastructure, as well as eliminate all barriers to telecom operations and development in Nigeria.
Prof. Abiola Sanni, a Lecturer of Commercial Law, University of Lagos, called on government to ensure that tlecom operators were encouraged to be in every nook and cranny of the country, irrespective of profit.Sanni also called for regulation and standard setting to ensure safety of lives and property.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this engagement is the 3rd in the series of NCC sessions with senior officials of telecoms interfacing MDAs of federal and state governments across the country.
The engagements were designed to ensure seamless operation of telecoms infrastructure and to understand the peculiar issues that state MDAs experience in their interface with operators and how to resolve them.
The engagements were also to ensure actionable work plan for speedy deployment of critical telecoms infrastructure and to protect those already deployed to stimulate national socio-economic growth.