The new automated system for collecting customs duties and taxes on phones and other electronic devices imported into Cameroon is not welcome. The practice of shifting the payment burden to the end user when the importer defaults is widely condemned, both online and offline.
From October 15, a 2019 Financial Law, All phones and digital terminals will be subject to the new tax.
In the new system, after the new phone connects to any of Cameroon’s mobile networks, the platform automatically detects the phone’s unique IMEI number and, if the connection is first, a message is sent to the phone owner. Customs duties and taxes payable. Customers have the option to pay once in full or in installments using their transmission time.
Customs duties and taxes on phones in Cameroon are 33% of their factory price. That means a mobile phone with 150,000 CFA francs ($ 268) will have to pay about 50,000 CFA francs ($ 88) in taxes. The latest provision requires network service providers to retain 200 francs (36 cents) from subscribers for each application downloaded through their network. There is a tax on downloading apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
The latest move comes as the government tries to respond to a sharp drop in revenue from telephone imports, despite an estimated 4 million telephones being imported into the country each year, according to the Customs Administration. The government estimates that unauthorized imports and phone smuggling will cost the country at least $ 5.51.5 million each year and will help optimize 2,500% of revenue collected on phones from the first year the new version was implemented.
Despite the government’s rationale, many, including music stars and opposition legislators, chose holes with the system and took to social and traditional media to express dissatisfaction. Leader of the Opposition Edith Kahwal calls on Cameroonians to stop “phone tax” and has the hashtag #EndPhoneTax Earned More than 70,000 tweets – and top trend throughout the week.
Cameroon Association of Telephone Mobile Operators (CATMO) Said The government has not yet given definitive answers to many of the operational aspects of the new platform.
Rebecca Enonchang is the founder of Cameroonian Tech Said The government action seems to have violated a number of laws, including exemptions on phone credit and not mobile money. “There is no transparency on how the contract is assigned and what is in it,” she also pointed out.
Highly Rated Country “Not freeThrough several independent monitors, including Freedom House, members of civil society fear that the new tax system is a systematic way to curb freedom. The Cameroonian government has forced long internet shutdowns on its western regions in recent years. Gwynne Colbert Fulay, a digital rights activist from Bamenda, said Quartz Africa Despite the financial rationale for the tax, it disproportionately hinders the ability of individuals to access new digital technology.
“The introduction of the new tax reflects the overall shrinking civic space and now virtually closed political space, and the government is becoming more hostile to political opposition as well as activists, critical media reporting and more importantly social media criticism,” he said.
Cameroon is following in the footsteps of other African countries such as Uganda and Zambia, which have made similar moves that limit the number of people who can access them online. When Benin set up the social media tax two years ago, the government The tax will have to be abolished Before thanking the public for the protests.
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