You must have heard or read about the Ministry of ICT’s proposal of exempting smartphones heading towards our soil from VAT and Excise Duty. While URA might not be smiling in the short term, the news received positive reactions from different sections of the country, owing to what the smartphone has come to signify in everyday Ugandan lives.

Even if we can’t quantify how many smartphones are in hands of Ugandan but the least we could arrive it being 4 million, telecoms are seeing increased data revenue in their annual reporting thus the increased investments in technologies like 3G and 4G whose return on investments is reliant but no solemnly on smartphone adoption and other data use cases giving them an incentive even to invest more, the local tech ecosystem also benefits given their innovations and works could at least find a receptive user base that is if they manage to crack the code well.

In general terms, we even become more connected than before. Smartphones are already a thing in Urban Uganda but their cost has often been sighted as a barrier of entry to many people’s hands. Even cheap knockoff Chinese brands are still priced highly than many Ugandans could afford.

Big bucks for the telcos

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This change of course where these smartphones could attract zero to no taxes could change if not revolutionize the whole industry. Just to re-echo what the Minister of ICT Honorable Frank Tumwebaze outlined, the more smartphones in peoples hands, the more data uptake and thus this gives incentive for telecoms or other service providers to lower their prices and their returns are somewhat guaranteed given the numbers makes the whole process viable.

A steady flow of information

Also, the flow of information will be steadfast as almost everyone is connected to the internet. Even now as many are still struggling to acquire a smartphone, those that already have one can attest to the above benefit. This is the time you won’t have to wait for your local radio, TV or print newspaper to break the news for you as these news circulate as fast on social media, blogs etc. Even access to government services through the e-government portals could find a reception as quoted by the NITA ED, James Saaka while fronting the proposal to the parliaments ICT committee. This however, wont come on a silver platter but will see adoption if charged with proper awareness.

Counterfeit phones might become  a thing of the past

Still, this could check on the flow of cheap knock off smartphones that find their way to our beautiful country in the names of appealing to those, that can’t cough a somewhat hefty fee for a genuine smartphone and so they resort to anything next to a smartphone. Whereas the iPhone X costs $1000 stateside, it would normally attract $1400 – $1500 when if finally lands on retail shelves in Kampala. Once the new tax reforms on smartphones are effected, it could cost a lot less than at least $1400 if we can factor in logistical hurdles to ship it from Shenzhen China to Uganda.

The dream of owning a UGX 100,000 smartphone will fast become a reality once this is implemented.

 

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