A4AI decries taxes on internet services, applications


Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), global internet advocacy group has frowned at the growing number of African governments that levy taxes on internet services and applications saying it is preventing millions of citizens from accessing the internet.

The organisation says its mobile broadband pricing update shows that Africans are charged the most to connect to the internet with 1GB of mobile data costing the average user approximately 9% of their monthly income.

Eleanor Sarpong, A4AI’s Deputy Director and Policy Lead says the continent cannot afford to keep these taxes in place.

“Africa, with the largest digital divide of any geographic region, has the greatest untapped potential with regards to improving affordable access and meaningful use of the internet. With affordable internet access, African economies can grow sustainably and inclusively.”

Sarpong makes specific mention of Uganda’s new Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2018 which imposes a daily fee of UGX 200 (US$0.05) to access social media sites and many common internet-based messaging and voice applications, as well as a tax on mobile money transactions.

With this tax, the cost of 1GB of mobile data increased to nearly 40% of monthly income for the poorest in that country, she adds.

Sarpong cited several other examples, including the Zambian government’s announcement of plans to levy a 30 ngwee (3c) daily tax on social network use, the new requirement for bloggers in Tanzania to pay a government licence fee, Benin’s short-lived social media tax of 5 CFCA per megabyte – as well as Kenya’s upcoming Finance Bill which targets internet use for additional taxation.

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