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Exempt ICT from taxes, African govts urged

TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
AFRICAN governments need to exempt the information communication technology (ICT) industry from taxes at the point of investment if benefits from the sector are to be realised, Nigeria chairperson for Affordable Internet Johnson Omobola has said.
Mr Omobola said currently, the development of the ICT sector is being hampered by the taxes required by several countries on the continent.
He said this during a panel discussion on how Africa can harness the ICT-revolution to build a ‘Smart Africa’ at the recently held African Development Bank annual meetings.
“Government taxes are killing ICT investments at birth. Investments need to be spared from taxes at the point of investment if benefits such as job creation are to be realised,” he said
Panellists included Kenya cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Joseph Mucheru, Rwanda Minister of Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Institute of Mathematical Sciences chief executive officer Thierry Zomahoun and International Telecommunications Union chairperson Hamadoun Toure.
Contributing to the subject, Rwanda Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete said it was incumbent upon governments to build enabling environments to harness the ICT revolution.
Mr Gatete said although it was generally agreed that ICT investments across Africa are being hampered by unfriendly tax regimes, Rwanda is an exception.
“We actually don’t collect a single penny on IT imports because it is part of our long-term strategy to promote the sector,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Mucheru said ICT revolution presents an opportunity to leap-frog and make lives easier for the people.

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