Osun state in Nigeria has officially abolished right-of-way fees, allowing telecom and internet service providers to lay fibre optic cables for free. Osun State Governor Ademola Adeleke announced today the cancellation of ROW fees as part of a digital economy policy.
The state thinks that getting rid of right-of-way fees, a point of contention between state governments and Nigeria’s telecommunications commission, will increase the number of people who can use broadband.
The National Bureau of Statistics says that in the first quarter of 2021, there were 3.5 million active internet subscriptions in Osun. The data don’t show how the state’s 4G or broadband works.
But one thing is clear: if a state wants to be a significant technological player and attract new businesses, it needs good broadband penetration. Still, it is a problem around the world. For example, Nigeria only has 45% broadband penetration.
Putting fiber optic cables around Yaba was an important first step for Lagos’s tech ecosystem. In 2013, Main One installed a 27-kilometre fibre optic cable to cover the Yaba area. As a result, many new businesses decided to set up shop there.
Osun hopes to get the same results. It is signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Oodua Infraco to get Fiber Optics set up across Osun immediately. In the first step, 64 kilometres will be covered.
Osun state will localize the startup act.
Waiving right-of-way fees is still just one way a state can get new businesses to shop there. So Osun state is making its first ICT policy, and important parts of it will include localizing the Startup Act, Osun state Maps from Google and a focus on the digital economy
The governor of Osun state said, “As part of our efforts to grow the digital economy, Osun is likely to be the first state to pass the Nigerian Startup Act.”
This will be my first Executive Bill, which I will present to the State Assembly following this event.
The Act is set up to ensure that entrepreneurs and people who want to start new businesses get the help and money they need. Once the law is in place, it will help both the ICT and Tech Innovation policies reach their goals.
Localizing the Startup Act is a crucial step. Under the Act, new businesses can get money from the startup investment seed fund and other tax breaks. It means startups looking to launch in Osun will get fast-tracked business registration and regulatory support. It shows that having your startup in Osun has more benefits than just having fast internet.
Putting Osun state on Google maps
Osun state is also starting a Google Mapping project to ensure that businesses and other important places are listed on Google. In November 2022, less than 30% of the state was mapped, according to the governor. That number is now at 50%, but the state wants to keep increasing. He thinks mapping is essential for small businesses and e-commerce to do well.
Along with Google, there is also a plan for the state to host e-commerce giants in Nigeria. We still don’t know when that will happen. In his speech, Governor Adeleke said, “All of the above projects can’t happen if we don’t have access to the internet.
I was told that our state still has very little internet coverage. I am determined to make things different.” It will be interesting to see how the state implements these policies and if they can bring tech startups to the state in the medium to long term.