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Kenya’s Safaricom critical of M-Pesa levies

September 16, 2013 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

The battle over telecommunications pricing in Kenya is again reaching a tipping point, with leading mobile phone provider Safaricom lashing out at the government over any continued rises in duties on money transfers in the country.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (Image source: UN Foundation)

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (Image source: UN Foundation)

In a statement issued at the AGM, CEO Bob Collymore said “the past year has seen the taxation net spreading to mobile money transactions.”

He continued that mobile money is “still relatively new and the government should be wary of putting any additional tax burden on the customer, and in particular on the poor who rely on M-Pesa more than others.”

He also urged county governments to “resist the temptation” to put down new fees on telecommunications infrastructure as this “would inevitably result in mobile operators de-prioritizing those counties.”

The company said in May that a 10 percent tax imposed in late 2012 on transfers using its M-Pesa mobile service had forced it to absorb costs of KES 400 million (approximately $5 million) in the 2012/13 financial year to shield consumers.

Collymore said “more than KES 28 out of every KES 100 charged to a telecoms customer went to the tax office, making Kenya’s telecoms taxes amongst the highest in the world.”

Mohammed Awad

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