The Ghanaian government has announced it would abolish taxes on all imported smartphones by next. This development was announced by the government through the 2015 budget.
The government said it realised that although Ghana has high mobile phone penetration, smartphones only represent 15%.
“Communication is shifting from voice to data and mobile data is projected to grow 6.3 times between 2013 and 2018. It is being proposed that in order to increase smartphone penetration, and in line with Government’s policy of bridging the digital divide within the country, import duties on smartphones will be removed. It is expected that the increase in smartphone penetration will increase revenue from Communication Service Tax, VAT and corporate taxes,” the government stated in the budget.
Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4Ai) while commending the government of Ghana for the decision said removing import taxes is a key first step towards getting every Ghanaian online. The issue of mobile phone tax was among the topics discussed at A4AI’s first in-country engagement held in Ghana.
“Taxes make up more than a third of the cost of a smartphone in Ghana, and as a result only about 15% of the population currently have one. It’s worth noting that when Kenya scrapped VAT on handsets in 2009, devices in circulation quadrupled and overall mobile penetration rose from 50% to more than 70%. We hope to see similar results in Ghana,” Jorge said.
In an exclusive interview with HumanIPO, she said the aim of A4AI is to bring outdated policy and regulatory frameworks into the digital age by working directly with national governments and a wide range of key stakeholders.
Following the introduction of the tax, HumanIPO reported the Concerned Mobile Phone and Accessories Dealers group had closed their shops in protest against the tax which has previously been welcomed by native manufacturers such as Rlg Communications. Ghana’s Association of Independent Mobile Phone and Credit Dealers (ASIMODE) also warned the introduction of the 20% tax on imported devices would have a direct repercussion on the businesses of its members.