Ghana’s decision to waive taxes on mobile phones is yielding positive results.Mobile phones on the market are now cheaper and more Ghanaians are having access to them.
In the 2008 budget statement presented to Parliament, the Minister for Finance, Kwadwo Baah Wiredu stated that the government had decided to waive duties and VAT on all imported mobile phones and substitute them with excise duty on calls made by mobile phone subscribers.
The reason cited for the decision was that mobile phone importers through smuggling had been evading tax they ought to pay to the state.
With this new decision, the cost of mobile phones would become relatively cheaper on the market because the tax element has been removed.
Since this announcement, there has been mixed reactions from the public, especially, mobile phone users.
However, CITY &BUSINESS GUIDE’s survey at Kwame Nkrumah Circle which is the city’s mobile phone hub revealed that with GH¢35 or less, depending on the brand, one is likely to find a good enough handset.
All manner of phones with flashy features are put on sale at Kwame Nkrumah Circle at different prices.
Obviously, one will expect that the high mobile phone patronage should translate into internet use to make every hamlet of the country become part of the global village in order to share in its joy and benefits but this is not so.
Most Ghanaians do not have access to the internet, in spite of the proliferation of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the country, due to cost.
Many more Ghanaians have access to mobile telephony than the internet.
A cursory glance at Ghana’s ICT policy document shows an optimistic and encouraging picture of the future of the industry, but cost still remains a hindering factor.
While the government of Ghana through this document has factored ICT into national development and is doing what it can to accelerate growth in that sector, not many Ghanaians have access to ICT, particularly the internet.
According to statistics, only 1.5 million Ghanaians have access to the internet.
The 2007 World Bank Report on internet usage in the world cited Ghana as one of the African countries with the lowest record of internet patronage, coming behind South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Senegal.
The question is, how come Ghana, the most peaceful and stable country in Africa is trailing behind these countries when it has a comprehensive ICT Policy, known as ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) in place?
By Felix Dela Klutse