10th July, 2012
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has rejected telecoms operators proposal on the need for a one-stop permit centre for approval to build telecoms infrastructure across the country.
Speaking during an Information and Communication Technology session at a conference organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in Lagos recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, said that since telecoms focuses more on physical infrastructure which could encroach on the responsibility of other government agencies and government at all levels, the idea may be difficult to create.
The NCC boss, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Legal and Regulatory Department of the Commission, Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye, said his position followed a proposal by the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, which seeks a single-place approach for getting all necessary permits for installation of telecoms towers and other infrastructure to avoid duplication of charges coming from government agencies and address the regulatory issues for telecoms infrastructures.
ALTON has earlier condemned the role of the National Environmental Standards Regulatory Enforcement Agency in the telecoms sector in recent times, when the agency had shut down telecoms base stations, causing a face-off between it and the NCC. This denied telecoms subscribers access to good services due to network disruption often caused by NESREA’s action.
To address the issue of multiple agencies controlling telecoms equipment, therefore, ALTON has proposed that the NCC should be made to be a one-stop centre for getting all the permits for telecoms infrastructure.
Explaining why the operators’ proposal for a one-stop permit centre is not feasible, Juwah said: “Although we acknowledge the challenges operators are facing, we cannot however, have a one-stop permit centre.”
According to him, “telecommunications infrastructure are often physical equipment whose impact, especially as physical structures, permeates as aspects of our life and there are agencies that regulate activities in those other sectors. Section 135 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 also stipulates that licensees are mandated that necessary approvals are taken from different levels of government as may be required.”
He, however, promised that the Commission would continue to collaborate with necessary agencies to ensure that other agencies’ activities do not affect telecoms expansion.
“We cannot do away with collaboration because telecoms permeates every section of the society and by virtue of that, chances are that NCC will be dealing with many agencies and we are already doing that,” he said.