Togo: VAT exemption for ICT equipment

Personal computers, Laptops, tablets and smartphones will no longer be subject to VAT (Value Added Tax) in Togo. The Togolese government’s decision to withdraw this tax was formalized last week through the adoption of the Finance Act for 2017 by the National Assembly. Soon, the Togolese population will buy this computer equipment at very low cost.

The Togolese authorities have committed to set up a digital hub in the region. To facilitate access to new technologies (ICT), the National Assembly of Togo adopted, last weekend, the Finance Act for 2017 for ICT equipment VAT exemption which is expected to be effective in a few weeks.
Towards democratized tools
According to the Minister of Telecommunications, Posts and the Digital economy, this measure aims to encourage the bulk of Togolese population to buy computer equipment. « I am pleased to announce for the new year that the abolition of customs duties on ICT equipment is formalized through the adoption of the Finance Act for 2017 by the National Assembly, » Cina Lawson, Minister of Post and Digital Economy put on her Facebook account. According to her, this action is also motivated by the increasing number of those who have access to the New ICT: half a million Togolese population out of a total of nearly 8 million, or 7.3%, whereas there were only 38,000 16 years ago.
It should be recalled that this decision is a result of a study revealing that terminal imports in 2014 accounted for 3% of taxes collected on total imports. In 2015, the amount of royalties would be CFA100 – CFA 150 million. In other words, the customs duties and taxes levied by the Government in this sector are very low compared to the benefits expected by the country from democratizing these tools.
Supporting growth
This Act does more than good to the Togolese population. « This decision will undoubtedly reduce the cost of terminals and boost mobile phone penetration in Togo. It is a very good government’s decision to zero-rate the terminals. I hope the tax and customs services are informed that it is in force not to oblige us to pay once they receive goods, » says Kouma Attikpo, a mobile phone salesman at Dékon, a shopping center in Lomé. For him, this provision will alleviate orders in China and others for trade.
According to official figures, 5,028,824 inhabitants now have mobile phones. This means the mobile phone market is booming in Togo. « In the first quarter of 2016, there were 34,773 new subscribers – or an increase of 0.75%. In the second quarter of 2016, + 3.5% – or a net increase of 168,304 new subscribers and in the third quarter of 2016, + 3.4% – or 168,428 more subscribers, » explained Abayeh Boyodi, Director General of the Post and Telecommunications Regulation Authority (ART & P). The zero-rating on ICT equipment, which will result in lower prices, could increase by 100% the percentage of mobile phone users.
Supporting the digital revolution
Other actions are implemented by the Togolese Government for a successful digital transformation in the country. For example, the WARCIP project intended to develop access to international bandwidth; the E-government project to connect administration buildings, hospitals and schools to fiber optics; or the free Wi-Fi project, still under development and under study for expansion.
« Taking inspiration from Rwanda, » as recently said by Minister Cina Lawson, « Togo is planning to catch up on promoting digital economy ». And several other actions are still expected to achieve this goal.


Auteur :   Emmanuel Atcha  // Photo : Salle de formation en Informatique, Lomé – © Emmanuel Atcha

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