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Like Nigeria and Zimbabwe, Rwanda wants to tax digital companies like Netflix, Google, YouTube …

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Rwanda has joined a list of African countries like Nigeria and Zimbabwe who have announced plans to tax online services and digital companies consumed within the country.

Earlier this week, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced plans to tax foreign digital service providers offering services such as Netflix, Google, YouTube, and Amazon.

Some of these service providers are video streaming sites, social media platforms, and companies that offer downloads of digital content. They are expected to pay digital tax to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The principle that allows international tax and cross-border activities was designed after the need for industrialization post WW11 in the 1920s and known as permanent establishment (PE) status.

The principle requires that a business only be taxed in a country where it creates sufficient physical presence. Since most companies in the digital economy can operate in a country without setting up appearances, the rule does not capture them.

 

image culled from qz.com

 

According to the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), a proposal has been presented before the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning from where it will undergo several procedures before implementation if approved.

“When you pay for services such as Netflix, you are using money that you have generated in Rwanda. So, we are asking, why don’t we collect VAT on these services yet they are being paid for by our citizens? If you pay 12 dollars a month for Netflix, why don’t we keep some of that amount at the source here?” Jean-Louis Kaliningondo, the Deputy Commissioner General of RRA said.

“If you go to Western countries, for example, France, you find that Amazon pays VAT yet it is not a French company. European countries are collecting VAT on services provided by foreign platforms, he added.

In November 2021, Ghana announced plan to introduce 1.75% levy on all electronic transactions including on mobile money payments, bank transfers and merchant payments to widen the tax net.

A number of African countries have expanded the scope of their indirect taxes to cover digital services, but only a few have thus far implemented some form of direct digital services tax that applies to non-residents with no physical presence in their respective countries.

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Ethiopia’s Awash Bank partners Mastercard to launch international prepaid cards

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Ethiopia’s leading private financial institution, Awash Bank S.C, has partnered with global payments company, Mastercard, to launch the Awash international prepaid cards.

Yohannes Merga, Senior Chief, Marketing Officer for Awash Bank, who announced the partnership on Thursday, said the launching of the Mastercard-branded international prepaid plastic card “marks a significant milestone in Ethiopia’s card business, as the cards enable customers and merchants to make and receive payments online from anywhere in the world.”

He added that the plastic card would offer added flexibility and convenience to customers as it was enabled to make contact or contactless transactions on ATMs and POS machines.

“This innovative offering is a testament to Awash Bank’s commitment to delivering convenient and secure financial solutions to our customers,” said Merga.

“Awash Mastercard empowers travelers with the freedom to manage their finances seamlessly while exploring the world.

“Along with the card, the bank will also introduce Mastercard’s Payment Gateway Services (MPGS) which will diversify and expand Awash Bank’s service offering.

“Mastercard’s Payment Gateway allows local merchants that have mobile applications or websites to integrate with it and accept international payments online. Customers from all over the world can place online orders and reservations and pay merchants that are integrated with MPGS using their cards.

Also speaking in the partnership, Shehryar Ali, Senior Vice President and Country Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands at Mastercard, said:

“This collaboration with Awash Bank is driving our commitment as Mastercard to enable financial inclusion across Africa.

“Our technological advancements in the payments landscape, enable consumers to be connected to endless possibilities, when transacting, in a safe, secure, and simple manner, which places power and convenience in their hands.”

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M-PESA partners IFC to increase financial inclusion for farmers in Mozambique

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Mobile money transfer and payment service provider, M-Pesa, has entered into a partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) aimed at boosting financial inclusion for small-holder farmers in Mozambique.

The agreement will see IFC cooperating with Vodafone M-PESA Mozambique to support M-PESA in several key areas, including revamping and strengthening its existing agent network and conducting comprehensive countrywide training for M-PESA’s sales team and agents.

IFC will also assist M-PESA to review and expand its merchant acquisition and management strategy in Mozambique, and support M-PESA’s activities across different regions.

Sergio Gomes, Director of Vodafone M-PESA Mozambique, who announced the partnership, said the IFC and M-PESA Mozambique will “work together to explore and pilot new ways to expand mobile money services in rural areas, with the aim of increasing financial inclusion for smallholder farmers.”

“We have seen very positive results since M-PESA was launched in Mozambique in 2013 having paid about 9 billion Meticais ($142 million) in commissions to agents just in the last 5 years,” said Gomes.

“The new phase of M-PESA will focus on expanding our value proposition and use cases to limit the use of cash in the economy. One important vertical where we want to intervene is in agriculture where payments are dominated by cash.

“We believe that through this partnership with IFC, we can have an impact on farmers by digitizing their value chains beginning with payments received for their produce and moving out to developing more sophisticated products like insurance,” he added.

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