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Danbatta’s Visit to FCT Minister Confirms CommunicationsWeek’s Report

peter oluka
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Professor Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

To speed up the process that will enable telecommunication companies deploy critical infrastructure for improved quality of service at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) led by Professor Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman and CEO, paid a scheduled visit to Mallam Muhammed Bello, minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Danbatta who started his speech by thanking the Minister for time and reception accorded his team, quickly proceeded to capture the challenges to the provision of robust and qualitative telecom services in the FCT bemoaning the inadequacy of telecom infrastructure in the Territory.

This confirms a report by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek on July 10, 2017 under the headline: "ALTON Rues Exclusion of Critical Telecoms Infrastructure in Abuja City Master Plan"

In the report, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) had identified the exclusion of critical telecoms infrastructures from Abuja Master plan, as contributory factor to the persistent poor quality of network services in major parts of the Federal Capital Territory.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek captured the remarks made by Engineer Gbenga Adebayo, chairman ALTON, during a breakfast dialogue with Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) in Lagos, insisting that the Federal Government needs to review the master plan to make provision for the deployment of cell sites in the City.

Recall, following recommendations by Justice Akinola Aguda Panel in 1975, the Federal Government established the Federal Capital Development Authority in 1976 which commissioned a US-based IPA Group, to prepare a draft Master Plan for the new Federal Capital of Nigeria.

The Master Plan of Abuja by IPA, completed in 1979 according to FCDA, is now undergoing review by Messrs. Albert Speers Partners in collaboration with four other Nigerian Town Planning Consultants, namely, Multi-system Consultant, Austin Aike & Partners Fola Konsult and Benna Associate.

But, ALTON claimed that the masterplan has no provision for modern technologies to drive telecommunications services in the FCT thereby causing poor quality of service and limiting operator’s ability to expand operations.

Engr. Adebayo further lamented that several efforts to get attention of relevant authorities in the FCT to make provision for such infrastructure has not yielded enough results.

Danbatta’s Visit
However, at the recent visit to the Minister of FCT, Prof. Danbatta cited delayed approval by FCT Administration (FCTA) to requests from telecom companies as a key cause of the inadequacy of telecom infrastructure in Abuja stating that some of the requests were made as far back as 2006.

Danbatta said "conventionally, developments in capital cities or territories serve as indices for the level of development in the entire nation". Thus denoting the paradox inherent in FCT being bereft of basic telecom facilities and structures.

Danbatta perceptively narrated evidence-based facts of correlation between ICT deployment and nation's social and economic development which find clear expressions in the multiplier effect of ICT on all other sectors said that reality speaks to the centrality of telecommunication in our lives.

The CEO of NCC also enumerated quite concretely some of the challenges he referred to including delayed approval for installation of base stations and fibre deployment; absence of collocation guidelines from FCTA; astronomical rise in fees required for building permits; Retroactive FCTA laws that badly affect telecommunications; activities of companies undertaking road construction and repairs with attendant fibre cuts; and attitude towards the implementation of National Economic Council resolution on multiple taxation, levies and charges on ICT infrastructure.

Danbatta equally proposed to FCTA to consider partnership with the private sector to fast track the process of making befitting telecom services available in Abuja.

Giving the Minister's disposition, it is expected that a joint committee of all stakeholders will be set up shortly to address the issues raised by the EVC.