A major Nigerian telecommunications provider recently requested approval to lay Internet fibre cables in Ekiti state Nigeria. Ekiti lies in Southwestern Nigeria, roughly 211 miles away from the country’s commercial capital city of Lagos.
Akin Oyebode, special adviser, Investment, Trade, and Innovation for the Ekiti State Government made this known in a tweet stating that the development was a result of the recent reduction in RoW charges.
We did this 6 weeks ago, and now, a major infrastructure provider has requested approval to lay 160km of fibre across our state. Will provide updates on their progress. https://t.co/QZA2Ywc6Ff
— Akin Oyebode (@AO1379) July 7, 2020
Though Oyebode did not reveal the telco behind the request, a source close to the matter has revealed MTN Nigeria to be behind this move. This and other details behind this request are yet to be confirmed.
We reached out to MTN for comments but we have received no reply as at press time.
This development is particularly interesting given that the high cost of RoW in most Nigerian states, has been a major issue for the federal government in the past few years.
While the National Economic Council (NEC) resolved that there should be a uniform price of ₦145 per meter, different states in Nigeria charge as high as ₦5,000, a far cry from the agreed amount.
On May 14, 2020, the Ekiti state government crashed the Right-of-way charges for broadband and other related Internet infrastructure from ₦4,500 ($11.53) to ₦145($0.37) per meter.
Following this, 7 other states followed suit: Plateau, Kastina, Imo, and Plateau dropped theirs, Anambra and Kaduna waived it completely, while Kwara reduced theirs to ₦1 per meter.
In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial epicentre, a unified fibre project has been ongoing for the past few months.
Note that in 2018, Ogun State government waived RoW charges for 250km of fibre for MainOne. This was in exchange for free Internet services at the State Government’s Secretariat for the next 30 years.
Following these moves, in this piece, we speculated that amongst several other benefits, calls and data might get cheaper in these states. A possible side-effect of discriminatory pricing.
According to Oyebode, the decision was to enable it to achieve full broadband penetration by 2021, attract businesses and investments, improve healthcare and education, and generate more revenue for the state.
A close neighbour, Akure, a Nigerian city with a budding tech hub has also experienced issues with Internet connectivity, but it is not clear how much was done to resolve the issue.
For Ekiti, it appears the latest move is setting up a vantage position for the development of broadband penetration, and its service-based innovation park, tagged the “Ekiti Knowledge Zone”– a project that seeks to equip thousands of graduates with the right skills.
While several factors might contribute to the success of this initiative, this appears to be a step in the right direction for the state. There’s also the possibility that other states might witness similar developments.