In a significant revelation, the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) has identified a major hurdle in the accessibility of smartphones in Africa – high taxes and duties. According to GSMA’s latest report, these financial impositions contribute a substantial 10 to 30 percent to the overall cost of smartphones across the continent.
The ‘Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa (2023)’ report underscores how the combined impact of taxes, duties, and manufacturing costs is pricing smartphones out of reach for a considerable segment of the population. Manufacturing in Sub-Saharan Africa faces a unique challenge of producing devices at a low enough price point to compete, particularly in the 5G and 4G markets where affordability remains a critical concern.
“The challenge for manufacturers in Sub-Saharan Africa is to produce devices at a low enough price point to gain market share, particularly in the 5G and 4G markets, where devices remain prohibitively expensive for most regional consumers,” states the GSMA report.
Notably, the research by GSMA Intelligence indicates that fees and taxation directly contribute to the final selling price, making smartphones even less affordable. This financial burden, ranging from 10 to 30 percent depending on the country, exacerbates the issue of smartphone affordability, emerging as a significant barrier to mobile internet usage in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The ramifications of high smartphone prices extend beyond individual connectivity, impacting broader goals of digital inclusion in the region. With disparities in access to affordable smartphones hindering progress towards embracing advanced technologies such as 5G, the telecommunications industry and policymakers face the urgent task of addressing these challenges.
The focus is now on finding innovative solutions within both manufacturing processes and regulatory frameworks. A reduction in taxation and duty-related obstacles is essential to making smartphones more affordable, unlocking the full potential of mobile internet usage, and ensuring that the benefits of digital connectivity are accessible to all corners of Sub-Saharan Africa.
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