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December 2014, Issue 14
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Member News

The Ghanaian Government confirmed it will drop import tax on smartphones in a budget announcement last month, following advocacy from the A4AI-Ghana Coalition. Photo credit: Michael Pollak / Flickr, CC BY. 

A4AI-Ghana Coalition Achieves First Big Policy Win: Govt. to Drop Import Tax on Smartphones

Less than a year after starting work in Ghana, the A4AI-Ghana Multi-stakeholder Coalition has notched up its first big win after the Government committed to abolish import duties on smartphones. This step — confirmed in the 2015 Budget presented last month — was a key recommendation developed by the A4AI-Ghana Coalition and the subject of intense advocacy.

Efforts to remove this duty were driven by the A4AI-Ghana Coalition Working Group on Taxation, led by Kwaku Saakyi-Addo, CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications. The elimination of the 20% import duty will reduce the cost of handsets in Ghana — where taxes make up approximately 35% of the cost of a smartphone — enabling many more ordinary Ghanaians to afford smartphones that allow them to access the life-changing potential of the Web.

"We readily joined and championed the A4AI-Ghana Taxation Working Group, knowing such collaboration would further strengthen the Chamber’s advocacy around taxation policy in Ghana. We are confident the interests of the government and the people of Ghana will ultimately be best served following the decision to remove the tax," said Saakyi-Addo. 

It’s worth noting that when Kenya scrapped VAT on handsets in 2009, devices in circulation quadrupled and overall mobile penetration rose from 50% to more than 70%. Ghana hopes to achieve similar results. You can read more about the announcement on our blog.

Mozambique Coalition Sets Plans for Tackling Policy Barriers to Affordable Access  

The biggest obstacle in expanding broadband access in all of the countries that A4AI works in is the high cost of connecting to the Internet, but in Mozambique, it is a particularly imposing hurdle -- a fixed-line broadband connection costs almost 51 percent of the average monthly income in the country, and a mobile broadband connection costs 41 percent. 

On November 18, members of the A4AI-Mozambique Coalition met to plan how best to address the major policy and regulatory obstacles to more affordable Internet access in the country. The coalition set concrete goals focused on tackling three key issues: Infrastructure Sharing & Investment; Taxation; and Data Collection.  

Some of the proposals that will be incorporated into the coalition's work plans include:

  • A thorough review of current legislation and standards around infrastructure sharing in the country and elsewhere. Based on the outcome of the review, develop a draft proposal that addresses infrastructure minimum standards and an incentive policy for infrastructure sharing.
  • An assessment of the impact of current fiscal policy on the ICT sector — the results of which will contribute to subsequent proposals for tax reform.
  • A national framework for ICT data collection and reporting by government agencies.
  • Formation of a research consortium for non-government research institutions to share information and collaborate on joint research projects. 
You can read more about the outcomes of the coalition meeting on our blog. The meeting was followed by a workshop for coalition members on ICT data collection, measurement and research, which A4AI hosted in partnership with the Brazilian organization Cetic.br on November 19-20. 

Photo caption: Participants in the A4AI-Cetic.br workshop on ICT data methodologies pose for a group photo. Photo credit: A4AI 

In this issue: 

Research & Membership Update | Member Feature Engage with A4AI
Did you know? You can access members-only documents via our website at http://a4ai.org/member-area/Login: a4ai-member | Password: alliance

Research Update

Affordability Report 2014 Update

The 2014 Affordability Report will be finalized by the end of the year, and design work, data visualizations and the communications strategy will be shared with members in January. The team is also planning a global launch event in the beginning of 2015 and will share details with members once confirmed. We thank the A4AI Affordability Working Group members for their insights and support in the final stages of the report production. 

Launch of the 2014 Web Index

The Web Foundation recently launched the 2014-15 edition of the Web Index on www.thewebindex.org. The Web Index is the world’s first measure of the World Wide Web’s contribution to social, economic and political progress in countries across the world. Five new countries – Haiti, Mozambique, Myanmar, Ukraine and Sierra Leone – are included in this year’s report.  

Membership Update
 

This month, we are excited to welcome as a public sector/academia member of A4AI:
And as a local partner in Mozambique: 
  • The Associação da Mulher na Comunicação Social ("The Association of Women in the Media")

 

Member Feature: USAID's Global Development Lab

 
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its Global Development Lab eight months ago to increase the application of science, technology, innovation and partnerships to achieve, sustain and extend the Agency’s development impact. 

This month, USAID announced that Ann Mei Chang, A4AI's founding champion, will serve as the Lab's first Executive Director. Ann Mei previously served as the Chief Innovation Officer at Mercy Corps, Senior Advisor for Women and Technology at the U.S. Department of State, and Senior Engineering Director at Google. We look forward to working with Ann Mei in her new role at USAID. 


Check out: The Lab's work on digital development 

For more information: http://www.usaid.gov/globaldevlab 
Engage with A4AI! 
Upcoming Events 

All members are invited to attend our presentations, panels, and forums. If you are interested in scheduling a meeting with our team at any of the below events, please e-mail emilie.yam@webfoundation.org.  
January 14 (tentative)

A4AI-Myanmar Multi-stakeholder Forum
Yangon, Myanmar



Week of February 9 (tentative)

Quarterly A4AI-Ghana Coalition Meeting & Workshops
Accra, Ghana


February 23-25

Social Media Week Lagos
Lagos, Nigeria

*The A4AI team will be participating.

 
February 24 

A4AI-Dominican Republic Multi-stakeholder Forum 
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Mid to Late February (tentative)

Quarterly A4AI-Nigeria Coalition Meeting & Workshops
Abuja, Nigeria


March 2-5

GSMA Mobile World Congress
Barcelona Spain

*Executive Director Sonia Jorge will be speaking on panels, and the A4AI team will be participating in a number of events. 
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