Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of Finance, announced today that the government will now start levying 25% customs duty on mobile phone handset imports with effect from October 2014.
Since August 2009, duty on mobile handsets and computers (essentially ICT gadgets) had been waived in a move to increase access to information technology.
In the announcement Chinamasa explained the move: “Handset purchases have increased significantly and mobile telephone penetration rates have also increased substantially to over 100%. Customs duty reduction has, thus, achieved its intended purpose. I, therefore, propose to levy customs duty on mobile handsets at a rate of 25%, with effect from 1 October 2014.”
With the line between the traditional computer and the modern cellphone very much blurred now – both are computing devices – this essentially means the government has made access to computing more difficult.
Being cheaper than regular computers meant mobile phones were providing a low cost entry into “using a computer”. Not the case anymore. Which is just wrong.
It’s not mentioned in the minister’s speech if regular computers will also now attract customs duty.
What do you think? What impact on tech adoption and the development and reach of technology tools will this have?