By Stanley Iwuoha
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has commenced move to review Infraco framework and funding issues.
This followed the constitution of a review committee to look into the framework for the licensing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) and make recommendations with sustainable funding options for effective implementation of the proposed national broadband plan.
The constitution of the committee was sequel to the requirements of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025) and reports of relevant committees set up by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which includes the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee on Multiple Taxation on Telecommunications Operators over Right-of-Way (RoW) and the Technical Sub-Committee on Right-of-Way for Deepening Broadband Penetration in Nigeria.
These requirements and reports the Commission said relate to the imperative of reviewing the INFRACO framework to cater for the delays in take-off, change in exchange rate, supply chain and other challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A statement from the Commission signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde on Sunday, said the Committee set up by the Commission has so far met with all licensed InfraCos as well as the preferred bidder for the North Central zone.
The Committee he also said is also looking at the challenges facing the InfraCo project, the need for accelerated deployment of fibre infrastructure, means of mitigating the exorbitant RoW charges, among others.
Adinde also said the Commission is also working actively with the Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) as constituted by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy based on the recommendations and requirements of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025).
Providing updates on the status of the InfraCo project in his office in Abuja at the weekend, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said: “The InfraCo project is dear to the government because of its ability to enhance robust and pervasive broadband infrastructure to drive service availability, accessibility and affordability.”
He said, “We are keen on ensuring the project delivers maximum benefits for the economy at large and that is why the ongoing review is very critical to the overall success of the project in line with the new realities of the time.”
The EVC further clarified that the current status of the InfraCo project, as provided above is contrary to reports suggesting that the Commission is inching towards executing the counter-part funding in respect of the project.