The Nigerian government appears ready to have taken drastic steps to redress issues surrounding telecom infrastructure as ‘critical national infrastructure’ by first addressing right-of-way violation by various governments across the federation, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can now report.
The non-implementation of standard national right-of-way policy is one of several militating factors against telecom operators’ ability to provide good quality of service to customers.
Omobola Johnson, minister of communications technology noted that telecom infrastructures are the most vulnerable in the country.
With current charges rising as much as N10, 000 in some states, telecom operators groan under the burden of excessive charges.
Her call comes even against the backdrop of new challenges faced by operators in the terrorists charged Northern region. Jonah Jang, governor of the ethnically divided Middle Belt state of Plateau last week ordered state indigenes to boycott services of one of the operators.
Governor Jang ordered Plateau state indigenes to boycott the mobile operators’ services following its decision to vacate the state due to the prevailing violence.
He noted that the operators’ action would cost about 1, 700 Plateau indigenes loss of jobs.
However, Johnson said poor national network coverage, reckless and illegal charges to grant right of way to telecom companies have all conspired to hobble the industry.
“The issues are really around ICT infrastructure. Poor national network coverage cost of access and speed of access. We don’t have enough access, particularly the fiber optic and the advanced wireless technology that are required to have this kind of transactions-the internet backbone, and the existing infrastructures are still very vulnerable,” said Johnson.
She observed that while operators have invested a lot of capital into building critical infrastructure, cases of vandalisation, fiber cuts, reckless BTS shut by local and state governments across the country hamper growth.
The minister stated that these frequent obstructions have also contributed negatively to the non-successful implementation of national programmes like the newly introduced ‘Cashless’ policy by Central Bank of Nigeria.
“There are a number things happening even as the infrastructure available are not enough, the ones available have become vulnerable in the society, which affect various programmes like the cashless economy,” Johnson stated.
Consequently, she noted that her ministry was now poised to tackle the issue of local and state governments’ arbitrary charges on telecom infrastructure, and their non implementation of the rights-of-way to telecom firms.
“So, before you lay one kilometre of fibre N10, 000x 1000 will give you one million naira per kilometre of cable laid. And if you are laying about 50, 000 kilometres of fibre you can imagine the cost to get the network that is required,” the minster enthused.