African leaders must address high smartphone costs

GSMA Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Akinwale Goodluck

GSMA Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Akinwale Goodluck

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) AN industry executive has urged African governments to adopt policies to address the high cost of smartphones, which he highlighted was one of the major contributing factors hampering digital inclusion in the continent.

Akinwale Goodluck, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Global System for Mobile Communication (popularly known as GSMA) bemoaned the issue of smartphone pricing remaining a barrier to internet adoption.

He was speaking during an online Mobile Broadband Inclusion discussion organised by technology firm, Huawei.

“There are a lot of initiatives going on as different stakeholders are
trying to sell a 50-dollar smartphone and some places more aggressive, a 20-dollar smartphone. Governments have a big role to play, especially with tax policies,” Goodluck said.

He said while reducing the taxation on smartphones was an “obvious” way to make smartphones more affordable, other strategies could also reduce the cost of smartphones for low-income citizens.

Another strategy Goodluck proposed includes government getting involved in parts of the value chain – including marketing, distribution and retail.

The GSMA regional executive believes this would reduce the costs
directly incurred by smartphone makers by reducing the number of players within the supply chain.

He meanwhile said digital connectivity was crucial as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continued.

“It is important to get a smartphone into everybody’s hands,” Goodluck said.

Kenya meanwhile has been hailed for enhancing digital inclusion.

In an effort to deal with this affordability barrier, mobile network
Safaricom, in collaboration with Google and Teleone, is rolling out a
finance programme which would enable low-income earners to purchase 4G phones cheaper.

While there’s a number of citizens with access to mobile technology, a huge number of them still use 2G phones.

The programme would allow Kenyans to pay as little as KShs 20 (US$0,19) a day to afford buy 4G smart phones. It is anticipated this initiative will result in 1 million Kenyans accessing the internet.

– CAJ News

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