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Business, tech lobbies Malawi’s govt to relax tax

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Malawi , 13 Jan 2022

Malawi’s government has been lobbied to review tax policies governing ICT services and make the internet more accessible.

The Malawi Confederations of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) and the ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM) believe high taxation is making ICT services unaffordable.

The organisations have also requested a waver on tax applied to ICT gadgets to make them more affordable and thereby boost penetration and growth within tech industry.

They referenced Malawi’s Digital Economy Strategy as having mentioned taxes as a hindrance to ICT penetration “but that the treasury was doing nothing to reverse the problem.”

MCCCI director of policy and advocacy Madalitso Kazembe has engaged with the Ministry of Finance and said the high costs of ICT services makes it expensive for new would-be entrants into the industry.

“Internet providers are urged to pay annual licence fees, spectrum fees and an annual sales turnover levy of 3.5% by Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA). In addition, internet is heavily taxed with excise tax at 10% and value added tax (VAT) at 16.5%. These, along with the 0.5% levy charged by the Malawi Bureau of Standards on ICT equipment coming into Malawi, make the ICT services expensive in the end.”

Ministry of Finance acting director of revenue division and policy Catherine Chilima said issues of internet affordability also need to consider how Malawi fares with other countries in terms of coverage.

Chilima said, “We need to look at capital investments in the sector, coverage in the country, price built-ups which include profit margins and overhead costs.”

According to a report published by Visual Capitalist last year, Malawi is by far the most expensive country in terms of data costs.

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