Nigeria Optimistic About UK’s RoW Technical Partnership Impact on Digital Inclusion

The Minister, UK-Nigeria Envoy, NCC Executive Vice Chairman

The Nigerian Government has expressed optimism that the partnership with the United Kingdom which resulted to the conduct of a study on effective Right of Way (RoW) administration and issuance of planning permits for masts and towers in support of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will have impact on the nation’s quest for digital inclusion.

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The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami in a keynote address at a technical presentation between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the UK Government’s Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme discovered that the Right of Way Levy was one of the major obstacles to enhancing broadband penetration in Nigeria.

According to him, the challenge prompted him to engage the Nigeria Governors Forum to address the Right of Way issue that had lingered for over a decade.

The virtual event was organized by the United Kingdom (UK) Prosperity Fund’s Digital Access Programme and Greenfields Law, in collaboration with the Ministry and the Nigerian Communications Commission offered stakeholders in the industry to engage with the Minister and the NCC.

In his welcome address, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said that the partnership between Nigeria and British Government on Digital Access Programme will deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.

Danbatta who represented said by Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Mr. Adeleke Adewolu said that he was convinced the British Government’s support will reform approaches to RoW and deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria.

According to him, the desired technical assistance on RoW reforms will assist in Nigeria’s quest for deepening broadband penetration across the nation in Nigeria noting that the Commission is willing and ready to advance the reforms noted in the technical study and will collaborate with stakeholders to effect it in the short, medium and long term.

The Executive Vice Chairman said that the technical presentation was also meant to get inputs from key stakeholders, towards the advancement of policy and regulatory reforms on Right of Way (RoW) as well as that of Issuance of Planning permits for Mast and Towers.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, in her opening remarks lauded the efforts of the Minister particularly on the reforms going on in the industry adding that “Nigeria has seen great progress in the effort to provide inclusive digital access to millions of its citizens.”

She stated the COVID19 pandemic has made the world to rely more on internet connectivity for access to basic necessities so much that substantial digital inequities have been revealed.

Laing pledged the readiness of the UK to support the promotion of affordable, inclusive, safe and secure digital access for underserved or excluded populations.

She also expressed hope of increased digital inclusion as a basis for a more thriving local tech ecosystem, generating skilled jobs and innovative solutions for local development challenges for Nigeria through the partnership.

Isaiah Erhiawarien, Lagos, Nigeria

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