FG signs MoU with Bayelsa on ICT growth

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A MEMORANDUM of Understanding has been signed between Bayelsa State and the Ministry of Communications Technology, targeted at making the state a ‘smart state.`

The agreement was reached at the weekend, in Yenogoa, Bayelsa at the state`s investment forum.

Indeed, the Ministry of Communications Technology and the Broadband Council is promoting a ’smart state’ initiative geared at engaging governors and relevant authorities at the state and federal level to address the issue of multiple taxation impeding the acceleration of the roll out of critical infrastructure across Nigeria.

Besides, the main aim of the ‘smart states’ initiative is to ensure that effective measures are adopted to remove arbitrary charges and eradicate multiple taxations across the nation.

Bayelsa is one of the ‘smart states’ selected by the Broadband Council to facilitate ICT infrastructure rollout critical for development.

Other smart states selected by the Broadband Council include Anambra, Gombe, Katsina and Ondo. Lagos has already reduced Right of Way (RoW) charges by 85 per cent.

Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson at the Investment and Economic Forum 2014, made a Presentation on ‘Technology Infrastructure & eCommerce Growth’.

She highlighted the current scenario and future opportunities in the Nigerian ICT Industry, the growth prospects, primary drivers and factors influencing adoption of e-commerce in Nigeria and the Communication Technology Ministry’s role in facilitating ICT development and e-commerce growth in Nigeria.

Emphasising the role states play in ICT play in enabling speedy infrastructure deployment, Dr Johnson urged Gov Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state to focus on ICT infrastructure development in the state by waiving RoW for two years, making it easy for fibre to be built in Bayelsa by reducing multiple taxation, enabling new roads being built or rehabilitated in the state to have fibre duct infrastructure, assign a single agency to collect levies, taxes and fees on behalf of the state and protect ICT infrastructure in the state.

 

Dickson, at the event, immediately pledged a 50 per cent reduction in Row charges and the setting up of a single agency to administer the collection of all taxes and levies in Bayelsa.

He promised that the state is proud to be selected as a Smart state and will put in place all the necessary measures needed to make Bayelsa a model ICT state in Nigeria.

Recalled that the ministry is working to ensure that the bottlenecks that mitigate service quality delivery are removed.  To tackle quality of service issues in the industry, the ministry in partnership with the Ministry of Works developed new Right of Way RoW guidelines for Federal Government roads to enable operators have unencumbered means of laying fibre optics which is critical for infrastructure development and quality of service. To remove arbitrary charges and eradicate multiple taxations that impede telecoms development across the nation, the Ministry for the first time in the history of Nigeria’s telecommunications revolution got state governors and relevant authorities at the state and federal levels to address the issue of multiple taxation and adopt measures that will remove arbitrary charges and eradicate multiple taxations to enhance service delivery across the nation.

A landmark agreement with the Lagos state government facilitated by the Ministry was brokered to address issues of RoW, base station deployment, among others. Cost of RoW was slashed from 3000 to 500.

The ministry is working replicate this in other states by convincing other state governors and relevant authorities at the state level to eliminate multiple taxation and adopt measures that will remove arbitrary charges and enhance telecoms service delivery.

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.

The ministry believes that the elimination of multiple taxes will result in cost effective, accelerated and massive deployment of ICT infrastructure across the country, which will enhance quality delivery issues currently being experienced by telecoms subscribers.

According to the ministry, accelerated deployment of ICT infrastructure, cannot be done without due consideration for the environment. The industry has been plagued with inter-agency conflicts and unduly long approval processes in ensuring that laid down standards are adhered to.

The ministry said it further committed itself to maintaining environmental standards and fostering inter-agency cooperation when it reached an Agreement with the Ministry of Environment and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency on the construction of base transceiver stations.

Source: Guardian Newspaper

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