Weekly digest for 2 July 2021
KEY READING FOR THE WEEK
This week’s main story is about the tax increases on internet data in Kenya and Uganda. In Kenya, the excise duty on data (as well as calls) was increased from 15% to 20%, effective 1 July 2021. In Uganda, the social media tax of 200 shillings per day has been replaced by a 12% excise duty on internet data, also effective on 1 July. Medical and educational services are excluded from the duty, though it’s not clear how the exclusion of medical and educational services would actually work. The increase in excise duties highlights the futility of introducing ICT policies and strategies to address the “affordability gap”. In Kenya, the National Broadband Strategy for 2018-2023 has, as one of its key objectives, the “reduction in the unit cost of data”. Yet the same government is raising duties whose explicit purpose is to increase the unit cost of data! Governments need to adopt a consistent and coherent approach to the ICT sector and decide whether they want to grow their tax base by enabling the sector, or strangle it by increasing duties, lowering usage and making services more expensive.
OTHER WEEKLY NEWS FROM AROUND AFRICA
- South Africa: Cell C has formally decommissioned its physical network in 3 provinces. Its entire network will be decommissioned by 2023. Cell C will roam on MTNs network.
- Nigeria: The SIM registration shambles continues. The deadline has been extended again to the 26 July 2021. However, since there are only 57 million National Identity Numbers issued out of a population of nearly 210 million it seems a near certainty that this deadline will be missed yet again.
- Africa: The IFC (part of the World Bank group) has invested US$130 million into the new tower company called Eastcastle. Eastcastle was launched in 2020 and is targeting the increase in towers needed to rollout broadband and especially 5G.
- ACE cable: The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable is available to interconnect at Teraco’s data centres in South Africa. Teraco is a neutral hub and offers connections to 8 different submarine cables.