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More tax leakages threaten African countries

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Choppies is arguably the biggest retail store in the country

Tax administrators in Africa have been challenged to embrace digitilisation to improve tax collection.

Logan Wort, Executive Secretary of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) this week implored African countries to embrace the 4th industrial revolution and get better at collecting revenue.“We need to build technologies to meet demands of digitilisation,” said Wort at ATAF 5th General Assembly in Gaborone.

He said unless the continent moves fast to make new rules to support tax collection in the rapidly digitalizing globe, more leakages are to be suffered by African countries, already tormented by either tax avoidance and evasion.

Wort said digitilisation is revolutionising cross-border trade, while free trade zone initiatives are also threatening taxes usually collected by governments.Citing tourism industry, Wort said the continent’s safari may in the future not benefit local economies but host countries of companies that operate tourism outfits in Africa.

He said a company may operate a safari venture in Africa while based overseas, meaning all bookings and reservation will be done through the host country with little trickling down to the safari destination.

ATAF with 38 countries that have been members of the continent’s premier tax body over the past nine years envisage getting vibrant solution to challenges the continent face on tax. Tunde Fowler, ATAF Council chairman said it is critical for the continent to swiftly move and ensure its tax legislation and system are improved to meet the global standards.

“While the developed world was fine tuning the tax sector, we were busy selling our resources,” Tunde, added that if Africa does not improve her tax laws in the digital global, more revenue collection losses will be incurred.

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BSE complies with reporting guidelines

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Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has become the 5th bourse in Africa to comply and publish Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting guidelines.

The development comes a year after BSEL became a partner exchange of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchange (SSE) Initiative.“The BSE made a commitment to publish guidance on ESG Reporting. This commitment has been fulfilled.“

We are the 42nd among the 81 SSE Partner Exchanges globally and the 5th in Africa to do this,” said Kgotla Segwe, Market Development Specialist at Botswana Stock Exchange Limited.
Other stock exchanges that have complied with the SSE initiative on the continent are from South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt.

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Mobile operators look to digital inclusion

Keikantse Lesemela

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Mascom MD Jose Couciero.

Mascom Chief Executive, Jose Couciero said they are looking into digital inclusion as the potential source of revenue growth because mobile subscription is no longer a major driver.

Botswana has one of the highest records of mobile penetration in Africa at 176 percent, Internet users’ stand at 21.4 percent while the fixed line telephony services stand at 8.2 percent. “As the Botswana mobile market evolves, we observe that mobile subscriber growth alone is no longer a major driver for revenue growth. Rather, the potential for the market is in digital inclusion through access to mobile and fixed broadband,” Couciero.

He said they have invested significantly in deploying their own transmission backbone and Metropolitan fibre rings to prepare their business to enter the residential markets with bundle offers of Internet, voice and content. “I am excited to confirm that we now offer fixed broadband services using both fibre and 4.5G wireless technology. These technologies offer high speed internet for TV live streaming and online games without interruptions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) observed the increased usage of social media platforms which has negatively affected the traditional voice call services resulting in decreased turnover for the company. Recently, BTCL Managing Director, Anthony Masunga also highlighted that competition in the telecommunications sector continued to intensify with the entry of new internet service providers leading to a downward pressure on prices.

On the other hand, another competitor, Orange Botswana is currently constructing a data centre which will enable the company to offer telecommunication and internet services without interruptions. The Orange Data Centre will cover 81% of the population with the 2G technology, 62% of the population with 3G technology and 45% of the population with 4G technology, offering the greater levels of security, flexibility and accessibility to data and information around the world.

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