• Thursday, April 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

FG calls for increased investments in Nigeria’s ICT industry

businessday-icon

Omobola Johnson, minister of communications technology, has called on local and international investor community, as well as telecommunications firms to increase their investments in the Nigerian Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry. Johnson at Ericsson’s 2015 and Beyond forum held in Lagos over the weekend stressed the need for more investments to build out desired infrastructure needed to boost broadband penentration in the country.

She noted that though the ICT industry has attracted about $32 billion in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) since the liberalisation of the ICT sector, three times more investments still needed. She however called on investors to work with Government on the Connect Nigeria initiative. Johnson, who identified issues of multiple taxation and levies as impediments to the roll out of communication infrastructure, said 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 Lagos state government and service providers. The Agreement with Lagos State resulted in the cost of the Right of Way (RoW) being slashed by 85 percent (N3000.00 only to N500.00 only). 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 percent.

The state has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) 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. The ministry strongly 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. Additionally, thousands of low to high-skilled ICT jobs will also be created for young entrepreneurs as the infrastructure is rolled out and subsequently maintained.