African leaders back ‘tech tax’ to close digital divide

An imam in the ancient city of Djenne, Mali, using the internet Copyright: USAID

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The presidents of Algeria and Senegal have backed a plan urging rich countries to tax their cities’ investments in technology to raise money to buy high-tech tools for poor nations with little technological infrastructure.

The voluntary ‘digital’ tax would contribute to the United Nations-sponsored Digital Solidarity Fund, created to promote democracy and economic development in developing countries by bridging the so-called digital divide between rich and poor nations.

The fund, which was launched yesterday (13 March) in Geneva, Switzerland, has already collected 4-5 million euros (US$5.3-6.6 million) to be spent on technologies such as mobile phones and computers.

Between them, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, France, Morocco and Nigeria contributed US$2.4 million to the fund yesterday

In 2003, Geneva became the first city to adopt a technology tax, imposing a one per cent levy on profits made by suppliers of the city’s technology.

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