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The tax burden on mobile network operators in Africa

Gregoire Rota-Graziosi and Fayçal Sawadogo

Telecommunications Policy, 2022, vol. 46, issue 5

Abstract: We estimate the tax burden on the mobile telecommunication sector in twenty-five African countries. This tax burden encompasses not only standard and special taxes under the control of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) but also fees raised by the national telecommunication Regulatory Agency (RA). Given the lack of financial data at the country level, we build a representative mobile network operator named TELCO, using the GSMA Intelligence database. We compute the Average Effective Tax Rate (AETR) for this firm considering general and special taxes and fees levied only on the telecommunication sector. We develop a web application (, allowing the reader to replicate our analysis or modify TELCO and tax parameters. The AETR varies significantly across countries, ranging from 33 percent in Ethiopia to 118 percent in Niger. Special taxes and fees represent a large share of the AETR, illustrating some taxation by regulation and a potential tax competition (a race to the top) between the MoF and the RA. We compare TELCO's AETR with that of a representative gold mining plant and a standard company with a similar gross return. The tax burden of the telecommunications sector is higher than that of the mining sector in 15 of the 19 countries for which we have data on the gold mining sector.

Keywords: Taxation; Telecommunication sector; Project analysis; Developing countries (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H25 L96 O22 O55 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.telpol.2021.102293

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