Modem to improve African net access

IT IS budget season in east Africa and the spending is easy. A shopping list of roads, pipelines, ports and public-sector pay rises prompted Uganda and Tanzania to hike their planned expenditure for 2013/14 by 21%; Kenya’s spending is projected to rise by 12%. With Western aid declining and oil-and-gas income yet to flow, the problem is how to pay for it all. Answer: squeeze more revenue from the telecoms industry.

Kenya was first out of the blocks at the turn of the year when it levied a tax on mobile-money transfer systems. That was largely aimed at soaking up some of the profits generated by M-PESA, a simple phone-based service operated by Safaricom that acts as a bank account and debit card for millions of Kenyans. Uganda followed suit this month, extending excise duty to all mobile-related activities; and Tanzania is expected to copy them. Read more

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