In 2014, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, enforced a 25% tax on all mobile phones imported to the country in a move to help boost government revenues following a slowdown in the mining, tourism and manufacturing sectors. This move had at some point also happened in Ghana and Kenya.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the 25% tax on mobile phones and 5% on airtime and data will help the government raise money to fund its budget-70% of which is spent on salaries. This hindered mobile phone and internet penetration in the country as a whole and even hindered the startup ecosystem which had been steadily growing due to the uptake of affordable smartphones in the country.
Now in 2018, this comes as good news as a duty review on smartphones loom as regulatory authorities seek to ensure affordability and increase uptake of data and internet services by industry and commerce across the country.
Consultations are already in progress on the duty structures following concerns that most of the devices are being sold at high costs and prices.
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) director general Dr Gift Machengete told journalists in the capital that plans to slash the duty structures are also being made after realisation that the uptake of internet and data services is on the rise.
“We are really taking into account such a plan and we hope it will benefit all the related parties,” he said.
It is also being anticipated that the duty review structures will also take into account the need to achieve objectives of the national ICT policy.