FG calls for increased investments in ICT sector

The Federal Government has called on investors and Telecommunication companies to increase their investments in the Nigerian ICT industry.

Minister of Communication Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson, stated this at Ericsson’s 2015 and Beyond forum held in Lagos.

She stressed that major investments are still required to build out desired broadband network for Nigeria. She noted that though the ICT industry has attracted about $32b Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) since the liberalisation of the ICT sector, three times more investments still needed. She called on investors and Telcos to work with Government on the Connect Nigeria initiative.

Dr Johnson, who identified issues of multiple taxation and levies as impediments to the roll out of communication infrastructure in Nigeria, stressed that adequate ICT infrastructure is crucial to good quality of service and ubiquitous broadband access.

To address the issue of multiple taxes/levies, impeding infrastructure roll out, she disclosed that the Ministry unveiled the Smart State initiative geared at accelerating roll out of critical communication infrastructure in Nigeria.

The Smart states initiative will also lead to improved connectivity to un-served and underserved communities across Nigeria. The expected goal is for the Smart State initiative to enable roll out of infrastructure across Nigeria.

Through the Smart State initiative, the Ministry is in the process of convincing State Governors and the relevant authorities at the state level to agree to eliminate multiple-taxation and adopt measures that will remove arbitrary charges and enhance telecom service delivery. Other benefits to this agreement include: standardised pricing on right of way, taxes and levies, thereby increasing the predictability of cost for infrastructure development in the ICT sector.

The agreement will reduce cost of network deployment and shorten the period for application processing. Lagos state has hearkened to the call of the Ministry, and a landmark agreement has been brokered between the state government and service providers. The Agreement with Lagos State resulted in the cost of the ROW being slashed from N3000.00 only to N500.00 only, a reduction of 85per cent.

She noted that an assessment of the deployment of ICT infrastructure revealed that almost 70 percent of deployment cost was spent on processing ROW; taxes and levies on infrastructure, which makes the landmark agreement with the Lagos State Government even more significant.

Bayelsa state has also agreed to slash the cost of RoW by 50 per cent. The state has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry and has also agreed to set up of a single agency that will administer the collection of all taxes and levies in Bayelsa. Anambra state has also agreed to work with the Ministry on the Smart state initiative.

Source : Independent

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