Ghana - Telcos want 20% import tax on SIM cards removed


The CEO of Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Kwaku Addo Sakyi-Addo said 20% import tax on SIM cards is an anomaly in the copyright law and must be removed.

The Copyright Regulation, 2010, places 20% import tax on all devices capable of being used to copy copyright works; among the devices listed was SIM card - the others included flash drive, CD, diskets and others.

Kweku Sakyi-Addo asked journalists on a visit to his office “which of you stores copyright material like music, pictures, audio visuals, or even books on your SIM card.”

He said the SIM card does not even have enough capacity to store the many contacts people keep on their phones, adding that SIM is mainly to activate the mobile phone to be able to make calls, and not to store copyright material.

Indeed, industry experts agree that currently the highest memory of a SIM card, until recently was 64kilobytes, which is way too small to copy anything significant; the largest memory of SIM card in Ghana right now is 128kilobyte (from Glo Mobile), and it cannot copy copyright material.

The experts said even if the SIM holder wants to copy any material apart from phone numbers unto the SIM card, one would need the permission of the mobile operator, and the mobile operator would have to even do the copying directly at source.

“No mobile operator allows or facilitates copying of copyright material onto SIM cards so the idea of the law is completely irrelevant,” he said.

Meanwhile import duty on mobile phones, which could copy copyright material has rather been abolished, but the duty is rather on SIM card, which cannot practically copy such material.

Some pundits have even asked if there is a 20% import tax on swipe cards like VISA card, MASTERCARD, E-Zwich card and others, which may probably have same memory as SIM cards.

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo said the chamber is pushing to have the tax removed.