A senior minister in the Ghana government has revealed that the government is considering taxing the use of services like WhatsApp and Facebook so that they can generate more revenue.
According to Ghana’s Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekufu, the move is motivated by the shrinking use of traditional telecommunication services as people prefer communicating using the internet services, which are technically called over the top (OTT):
“Currently, government is losing huge revenues from the MNOs to OTT digital service providers as traditional sources of telecoms revenue like voice declines.
It is important that we have a frank, open dialogue on this, and explore other sources of revenue within the digital services space to improve government domestic revenue mobilization.”
– Minister, Communications and Digitalisation, Ghana
An over-the-top (OTT) digital service is a media service offered directly to telecommunication customers via the Internet. OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms.
Examples of popular OTT communication services that include:
The minister, who was reportedly addressing the Mobile Technology for Development (MT4D) team, indicated that stakeholders in the telecommunication sector, especially Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), will be engaged on how government can shore-up its revenue by taxing OTT.
According to the minister, increasing tax revenue is the only way that the government can continue to invest in expanding digital activities in the country.
The latest move comes only a few months since November 2021, when the government slammed an e-levy tax of 1.75% on mobile money and other electronic transactions within the country. Back then, Ghana Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, said the levy will widen the tax net and have more contribution by the informal sector.