By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria’s Minister for Communications Technology, Mr. Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, and General Manager, Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) Mr. Babajide Odekunle, have said lower call tariffs would give more Nigerians access to telecoms service and narrow the digital divide.
To make this happen, Shittu has identified tackling the issue of Right of Way (RoW) as one critical issue that must be tackled by the three tiers of government. He added that active involvement and participation of all the stakeholders to dialogue on the modalities for harmonising the tariff charges in the telecoms industry was imperative at this time.
The Communications Technology minister spoke when the LASIMRA chief and his team paid a working visit on the minister in Abuja.
According to Mr. Shittu, there was need to push for actions on the adoption of a common tariff such that would allow common man to have access to telephony, get the best services and be able to afford the call rate.
This according to him is because the telcos would always shift the levies back to the consumers.
He said the Federal Government was ready to collaborate with all the stakeholders in the industry and do whatever that can be done to ensure a new lease of life for the consumers. According to Mr. Shittu, the telecom operators are the collective benefactors of all Nigerians, adding that the costs of diesel to power the generators and other financial implication in maintaining the industry are possibly some of the considerations responsible for the high call tariff that could not be compared to what is obtainable in other climes.
Mr. Odekunle congratulated the minister on his appointment and wished him a successful tenure in office. He said the giant strides made by the minister within his short stay in the information communication technology (ICT) industry reflect the preparedness of the minister for public service.
He told the minister that LASIMRA is the government agency responsible for the regulation and maintenance of telecom infrastructure in Lagos, adding that it also grants RoW for underground metropolitan cable laying across the state..
He pledged the support of Lagos State government to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) of the Federal Government because the state believes its benefits are overwhelming as it is critical to economic development.
The LASIMRA chief said the NBP will increase internet penetration, thereby boosting the capacities of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and creating jobs to grow the gross domestic product of the country.
Mr. Odekunle said more than 60% of the telecom market is based in Lagos State adding that by implication, telcos should partner and collaborate with the state government in its quest in the areas of compliance with existing statutes and regulations particularly, payment of levies and charges and also adhering strictly to safety and maintenance standards prescribed for infrastructure facilities across the state.
He said the agency is planning to have all the data base of the infrastructure and set the record straight and be abreast of happenings in the industry.
According to him, the issue on co location remains the best option and most appropriate for the telecom industry but stressed that it requires utmost cooperation and great understanding among the operators to wholeheartedly endorse it.