Government has announced that as part of efforts to inspire digital transformation it will reduce the high cost of data in the country, if the New Patriotic Party is re-elected into power in December.
According to them, this will be done through the reduction of taxes on digital devices, reduction of spectrum and license costs, and reducing further the cost of international calls.
Speaking at the official launch of the party’s election 2020 manifesto in Cape Coast, Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, said that the move is also to build a digital services economy and establish Ghana as the digital service hub of West Africa.
“We have since 2017 demonstrated the potential for public policy to inspire digital transformation initiatives. The next step is to create a digital services economy through the expansion of the Ghana Innovation Hub project to nurture start-ups to accelerate the development of applications software, provide regional e-backroom services, and enterprise-level software.”
“Over the next four years, we will leverage on our existing digital infrastructure and make the necessary investments and policies to establish firmly Ghana as the digital services hub of West Africa. Specifically, we will also reduce the high cost of data in Ghana because while the cost of data has gone down significantly by 40%, from $1.56 per 1G in 2019 to $0.94 in 2020 and placed Ghana as the sixth cheapest in Africa, our goal is to be among the cheapest. To do this, we will reduce taxes on digital devices reduce spectrum and license costs,’ he said.
He further noted that government will also “reduce further the cost of international calls to support both regional and international trade, by removing the mandatory $0.19 per minute tariff for international incoming calls and replacing it with a competitive regime and remove the $0.06 surcharge to an ad valorem tax.”
This announcement comes months after the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, during his presentation of the 2020 mid-year budget review in Parliament, stated that government will reduce the Communication Service Tax, CST, also known as ‘Talk Tax’ from nine per cent to five per cent.
He stated that the reduction, which will take effect from September, 2020, will help reduce the cost of communication services to the consumer as more people work remotely and utilize online services due to COVID-19.
Ghana’s Digitization Agenda
The Akufo-Addo led government has also reiterated its unflinching commitment to leverage on technology and digitisation, to strengthen and improve the delivery of service within the country’s public sector.
Following its agenda of formalising the economy through digitization, the country has witnessed the introduction of Zipline Technology’s, a medical drone programme, which is helping in healthcare delivery especially to the hard-to-reach communities of Ghana, introduction of a Paperless Port system which has reduced turn-around times at the country’s ports and the digitation of DVLA to eliminate corrupt practices.
Others include the introduction of a Digital Property Addressing System, issuance of a National ID card, a national address system and increase in mobile money interoperability among others.