Less than a year after starting work in Ghana, the A4AI-Ghana Multi-stakeholder Coalition has notched up its first big win after the Government committed to abolish import duties on smartphones. This step — confirmed in the 2015 Budget presented this week — was a key recommendation developed by the A4AI-Ghana Coalition and the subject of intense advocacy.
Efforts to remove this duty were driven by the A4AI Ghana Coalition Working Group on Taxation, led by Kwaku Saakyi-Addo, CEO of Telecoms Chamber. The elimination of the 20% import duty will reduce the cost of handsets in Ghana — where taxes make up approximately 35% of the cost of a smartphone — enabling many more ordinary Ghanaians to afford smartphones that allow them to access the life-changing potential of the Web. 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%. Ghana hopes to achieve similar results.
With the average cost of 500MB of mobile data still hovering at around 11% of the average Ghanaian’s income, there is still much work to do before the Internet becomes truly affordable for all citizens. The import tax on smartphones is one of five taxes targeted by the A4AI-Ghana Coalition. Nevertheless, this is an important step in the right direction. We commend the Ghanaian government for this progressive step, and congratulate all of our local coalition members who have worked so hard to make it happen.
A4AI Ghana Timeline
○ October 2013: Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signed with Ministry of Communications.
○ February 2014: First in-country forum takes place. More than 25 diverse organisations agree to form local coalition and focus on taxation, infrastructure sharing, and open access and pricing transparency.
○ June 2014: Taxation working group develops work plan and advocacy for reform begins.
○ November 2014: Government abolishes import duty on smartphones.