Policy Leaders Forum

Catalyzing economic growth in Africa through progressive fiscal policy reforms


Wed, 18 Oct: 10:00 - 12:00 CAT

By Invitation Only


The Square, Extension Building


Session Description

The Africa Policy Leaders Forum is an invitation-only event.

Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are facing increasing pressures to expand their tax bases and mobilize more tax revenues, to finance ever-growing government debt, public services, and development projects, as well as to support the development of their digital economy. However, many governments rely on the formal sector as a key contributor to the state budget. As a result, some sectors, such as telecommunications and ICTs, often face high taxes beyond their size in countries' economies.

At the end of 2021, the mobile phone industry generated 8% of GDP, representing more than $140 billion in added economic value, and nearly $8 billion in taxes and fees, representing approximately 35% of the total turnover of the mobile sector in the region. Despite the growth of the mobile economy in sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades, at the end of 2021 it was found that:

• Only 515 million people were connected to mobile services, accounting for 40 per cent of the sub-Saharan population.
• Over 870 million people, representing 60 percent of the population, have been unable to use mobile services and take advantage of the benefits of mobile connectivity.

Taxation policy reforms can play an important role in bridging the digital divide by unlocking investment in mobile networks and improving affordability hence promoting greater adoption of mobile services. The objective of this session will therefore be to present the conclusions of the latest GSMA study on the taxation of the telecommunications sector in sub-Saharan Africa, and:

• Discuss ways and means to broaden the base of contributors for a fair contribution of all actors of the mobile sector in sub-Saharan Africa, and initiatives to increase the tax revenues of SSA countries.
• Assess the impact of mobile sector taxation on the prices of services and devices to end users and propose measures to minimise this negative impact.
• Propose concrete actions for an acceptable balance between the need to increase state tax revenues and the need to reduce the usage gap, in order to reduce the digital divide and connect as many people as possible to the mobile internet.
• Discuss the regulatory measures needed to drive investment in the mobile sector and make mobile devices and services affordable for all citizens.

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