Ghana broadband Internet providers call for tax exemption
Internet service providers in Ghana have called on Government to reduce or completely eliminate taxes incurred by broadband suppliers to make the service available and affordable to all no matter where they live.
They have argued that by reducing the cost element of the service facility, the country will be on course to achieving 50 per cent broadband penetration by 2015 since the service will become cheap and affordable.
A World Bank 2009 Information and Communications for Development report says in every 10 per cent of broadband penetration in developing countries, there was a 1.38 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
A communiqué issued in Accra on Wednesday after a two-day workshop at Dodowa over the weekend to develop a national broadband strategy said taxes duties and exorbitant license fees hampered growth of broadband service in the country.
The workshop, convened by Ghana Connect, an Information Technology service provider, was to design strategies for the country to achieve a 50 per cent broadband penetration by 2015 as well as increase the broadband bandwidth from current 256 kilobytes to two megabytes per second.
This is expected to contribute at least 6.9 per cent to the country’s GDP which would lead to a reduction in poverty.
The communiqué called on the National Communications Authority (NCA) to work to reduce the period that it takes to license an operator which currently stands at about five years.
It said fibre service providers should develop graduated pricing schemes for international bandwidth to force current bandwidth monopolies to consider reducing their prices.
It said NCA should drive policies that encouraged infrastructure and facility sharing among operators to reduce costs.
It said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency should ensure that ICT infrastructure plans existed at local levels to facilitate the penetration agenda.
The communiqué said local service providers should develop more voice enabled options for illiterates to access broadband service.
It also called for the establishment of an independent body recognised by government to engage service providers as well as conduct research in areas of realistic interest so as to inform stakeholders and consumers based on the research findings to help set attainable goals for the industry.
Meanwhile, at the workshop at Dodowa, government promised to provide fibre-optic backbone throughout the country to facilitate the broadband penetration agenda