Dr. Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has sought the support of Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Lagos State governor, for resolution of identified problems associated with right of way and multiple taxes and levies at various levels of government which have become impediments to realizing good quality of telecom services in Nigeria.
Dr. Juwah who paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Fashola at his Alausa office, in company of two commissioners and other officials of the Commission, informed the governor that the nation has about 119 million active subscribers while teledensity reached more than 85 per cent from some 0.4%, while contributing more than 7 .8 per cent to the national GDP, and that Lagos State controls more than 15 per cent of the mobile phone subscriber population in Nigeria, hence its position is seen as critical in matters that affect telecommunications services.
He said while it is important to reiterate that quality of services in Lagos, and indeed, other parts of the country, is not desirable, there are challenges contributing to this with the Right of Way issues being the most critical.
He said that “We are already aware that you are involved with other governors in the National Economic Council in discussing and finding solutions to the issue of RoW in the country as currently being championed by Vice President Namadi Sambo. We urge you to continue to support these patriotic efforts so that the objectives of providing easy passage for telecommunications infrastructure, to accelerate and encourage more investments in the country, are realized”.
He also acquainted the governor with the level of the nation’s infrastructure deficit with reference to the paucity of masts and towers in Nigeria with less than 25,000 base stations compared with a country like UK with up to 65,000 base stations adding that a 2009 survey by the NCC showed that out of a total of 6, 196 masts and towers in Lagos, 48 per cent belonged to corporate bodies and individuals, 25 per cent belonged to telecom operators, 18% to banks, 8% to unidentified owners and 2% to the broadcast industry.
The NCC boss said even if the number of base stations owned by operators, which was 2, 975 then, had increased by 100%, it would still have fallen short of what is needed to serve Lagos subscribers alone”, he said.
“Your Excellency, this situation is made worse by multiple taxations and regulations that await the service providers at the various levels of government, including state governments, local governments, and even some communities. In most cases, unfortunately, telecom masts and towers easily become specific targets for multiple taxes and regulations even where there are other masts and towers in existence, or even when appropriate taxes have been imposed at the Federal Level.
Given the scenario of infrastructure deficit that we have painted above, the situation on ground becomes very discouraging as some of the service providers depend on very few base stations to serve the populace.
“We have noticed that some of these regulations exist in Lagos and it is our hope that this progressive administration will be disposed to taking a serious look at some of them with a view to eliminating double and inequitable taxation. This will in turn engender an enabling business environment that would encourage more investments and accelerate deployment of more telecom infrastructure and facilities”, he said.
Dr. Juwah also brought the attention of the governor to vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure which has taken its toll on the quality and availability of services, and the need to support the Commission in pursuit of the critical infrastructure bill at the National Assembly as Lagos is mostly affected in any of these vandalism incidents.
The NCC boss also invited the governor for collaboration in the implementation of the Emergency Communications Centres, ECC, across the country as the pilots have already been commissioned at Awka and Minna, so that Lagos will be a model city for this national assignment which the Commission has elected to bring to the nation.
Governor Fashola in his response, commended Dr. Juwah “for the thoughtfulness and initiative of the broadband”.
“You will regulate the allocation of frequencies, you will regulate bandwidths and so many other things but you cannot regulate where the towers and mast are positioned, you need me as indeed you need all of my colleagues to determine where the right of way will be and under what conditions and this was the point that we took”, he said
He regretted that a lot of time have been lost in the legal process in the matter of approvals for the operators for erection of masts because of the disagreement with his government which refused to grant approvals for new installations and government’s insistence on collocation, payment of levies, and quality of installations.
He promised to bring the dispute out of the courts for amicable settlement.
He disagreed with the use of the term multiple taxation as a proper way to describe levies being imposed on operators for services rendered to them at state levels as the operators’ licenses for operation does not foreclose payment for the land and other associated fees.
“It is an incidence of the nature of business that they have entered, the issues we should be talking about is how to mitigate cost and that is what I’ve told my colleagues that we cannot make revenue from the cost of right of way or from the cost of setting up masts and towers”, he said.
“Lagos State does not seek to do so, we see the revenue in the business growth that ICT and stronger broadband and fiber optic capacity give to citizens, that’s where I see money. The revenue that comes from businesses, more people employed, paying more income tax is much more than what any government could ever collect”, he said.
He however, chided the operators for not applying appreciable level of corporate governance as is evident in the types of contractors that they use, resulting in damages to infrastructure like roads already built by the government.
“There must be a sense of patriotism from the contractors and I choose my words very carefully, by the contractors being used by the telecom operators in laying their infrastructure, a sense of ownership and duty to protect the existing public asset. They’re not enough, so the few that we have, we must protect, it can’t be I want to do business, I want to give people telephone, I don’t care if we get lost, so this really is the heart of the matter”, he said, while promising to “get the parties out of court, so that we can set a regulatory regime in which everybody can work together”, he said.
TETFund Seeks Increased Annual Research Funding of $1bn
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Thursday, urged the federal to increase its yearly funding for Research and Development (R&D) to $1 billion. This was as it hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his recent increase of the research grant from N5 billion to N7.5 billion.
Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, executive secretary of TETFund, speaking at the inauguration of TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee in Abuja, said massive investment in research would bring about the much-needed development in the country.
Bogoro also said it was time for the promulgation of a law that will bring into full place what he referred to as the “National R&D Foundation (NRDF)” to deepen research in the country.
Hear him:”To galvanize our vision towards making R&D the ace and game changer in our national development agenda, the need for an appropriate law to support the establishment of a National R&D Foundation (NRDF) cannot be overstated.
“We need a robust institutional framework and arrangement for the NRDF. I am recommending a minimum annual budgetary threshold of 1billion dollars as the funding portfolio for this Foundation.
“When we consider the inevitable benefits of R&D and the inevitable benefits of R&D and the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria, this amount begins to look like a drop of water in the ocean-population of 200 million people in 2020 and projected to become double in 10 years for now.”
Prof. Bogoro, who said the TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee is expected to come up with its own recommendation on the required amount that is suitable for efficient research activities in the country, called for a robust collaboration between researchers and the private sector to bring about all-round development in the country.
“It is envisaged that the private sector of the economy should pick the gauntlet to steamroll the lofty initiative by taking ownership of it,” he said.
Prof. Bogoro lauded the recent performance of Nigerian universities in the world’s ranking, saying TETFund intervention projects have continued to encourage such feats.
On his side, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, while inaugurating the committee, called on members to put their best to the work he described as ‘national assignment.’
Represented by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukuemeka Nwajuiba, Adamu said that continued investment in research would herald a rebirth of Nigeria.
“Nigeria voted us into power predicated on our being able to transform our national aspirations and make them a national achievement.
“It is in recognition of this direction that the Executive Secretary, TETFund, presented his vision of a research-driven nation and how to finance that ambition through the Board of Trustees (BOT).
“To a large extent, Nigeria’s future depends on you. You have been summoned to a national service that is not available to the rest of the 200 million population. It is a national calling that requires almost all of you,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Hon. Aminu Suleiman said the work of the committee would open the windows of opportunities to tackle various developmental challenges confronting the country.
Suleiman, represented by Hon. Ikenna Elezieanya, lamented the way Nigeria has shown less concern to research, saying that many developed countries invested in research and development and thus helped to improve on their economy.
He said, “Research is the gateway of innovation. It is said that while countries like the USA, Korea, and the like have been investing in research and development, we seem to show less concern.”
He encouraged beneficiaries to take good advantage of the initiative to solve problems for the betterment of the country.
Responding, the Chairman of the over 160-member TETFund’s R & D Committee, Prof. Njidda M. Gadzama, said the epoch-making event will transform the socio-economic sector by ensuring the robust promotion of cutting-edge innovations.
“We promise to carry out our assignment with commitment and diligence and this will result in the R & D Culture and R&D Foundation to drive industrialization of the country,” he said.
The standing committee whose membership is drawn from the academic, industry, and private sector, has the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mansur Ahmed, as one of the three Vice Presidents.
UNWTO, Google Host First Tourism Acceleration Program in Sub-Saharan Africa
The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected tourism, a sector that accounts for millions of jobs around the globe.
While no one can say with certainty when the sector will recover, people are starting to dream of getaways again – whether closer to home or to remote destinations.
As more and more people go online to search where and when they can travel, accelerating the digitisation of the tourism sector will be key to helping it adapt and recover.
This is why the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Google have partnered to create and host an online Acceleration Program for UNWTO Member States’ tourism ministers, top travel associations and tourism boards to further develop innovation and digital transformation skills.
Today, ahead of World Tourism Day, the organisations hosted the first UNWTO & Google Tourism Acceleration Program focused on insights from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Tourism is the backbone of many economies around the world. As data from UNWTO shows, tourism represents 9% of global trade for Africa and 1 in 10 jobs directly and indirectly. Moreover, the sector drives inclusive growth, as women make up 54% of the workforce.
Natalia Bayona, UNWTO director of Innovation, Digital Transformation and Investments, said “UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger,”
“With the right policies, training and management in place, innovation and technology have the potential to foster new and better jobs and business opportunities for tourism in Africa while improving the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the region”.
Africa is home to 30% of the world’s population, adding hundreds of millions of new online users every year.
Google Search is one of the places Africans go when researching and booking travel.
Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Markets, said “We’re here to help the tourism sector recover from this unprecedented crisis and emerge stronger.
“Our travel data insights and tools can help tourism authorities identify and understand the barriers and drivers to visit travel destinations for better tourism planning.”
Below are some of the Nigeria travel data insights shared with participants in today’s session:
Since Nigeria announced its intention to reopen its borders to international travel on August 29th, search interest for travel has grown.
This slowdown presents an opportunity to rethink tourism, innovate and further develop the digital transformation of the sector so it can build the foundations for future sustainable growth.
MultiChoice in collaboration with Celestial Tiger Entertainment Launches KIX on DStv
Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE), the operator of the largest bouquet of pan-Asian channels dedicated to Asian entertainment, and MultiChoice Group, Africa’s leading entertainment company, has launched action movie channel KIX, on DStv.
KIX will launch on Premium, Compact Plus and Compact packages in Nigeria from 1st October 2020 at 6:00 pm WAT.
The launch of KIX marks CTE’s first foray into Africa.
Ofanny Choi, president of Celestial Tiger Entertainment, said, “We are very excited to be launching KIX on DStv in Africa with MultiChoice.
“Asian action entertainment has always resonated well with the audience worldwide, and we are proud to work with MultiChoice to bring this popular genre to viewers in Africa.
“With KIX’s proven success in Asia, we are confident we can deliver the best of action movies to our African audience.”
John Ugbe, Chief Executive Officer, MultiChoice Nigeria, said, “We at MultiChoice are delighted to announce the launch of this brand-new channel KIX, a channel that will expand our viewers content slate, giving them more variety and entertainment.
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and new collaborations such as this, help us expand their viewing experience”.
Action fans can enjoy a high-octane blend of martial arts, action and thriller movies from the East and West on KIX, all presented in English.
Apart from the latest star-studded blockbuster premieres, KIX will also showcase never-seen-before movies from the various action genres, including kung fu classics from the legendary Shaw Brothers library, action comedies, adventure and fantasy action franchises, and action thrillers.
While fans of Asian action movies will see the legendary Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Bruce Lee in action, KIX also aims to present and delight viewers with movies featuring all other Asian action stars.
With all genres of action movies spanning from the 1960s to the present day, KIX is a one-stop-shop for all action movies entertainment throughout the years, with something for everyone. Viewers can now watch KIX and its catch-up programming anytime, anywhere, on DStv and DStv App!
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