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Benin Becomes Third African Country to Introduce a Social Media Tax

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social media tax Benin

The government of Benin Republic has introduced new levies on telecommunications operators with two taxes relating to the use of telecom services by consumers.

New “Social Media Tax” in Benin

Patrice Talon, the president of the Benin Republic, adopted a decree on July 25, 2018. It prescribes levies on telecom operators based on taxes related to use of OTT services and the internet.

As stated on the Internet Sans Frontiers website, the contribution of the consumption of electronic communications services does not only affect Over-The-Top (OTT) applications and social networks. It also hits the voice, SMS and Internet services.

They are subject to a tax of five percent of the price excluding tax, also levied each month by the service provider.

An Alarming Trend in Africa

The ISF promotes the free flow of information, defends digital freedoms and fights against censorship on connected networks. It criticised the tax decision because it contradicts the Benin government’s ambition. The government wants to make the digital economy a strategic sector for economic recovery. Instead, it increases the cost of Internet access, which is already very high in the country. It has the effect of tripling the price of the consumption of Internet packages for the poorest consumers in Benin.

social media tax BeninParadigm initiative has also issued a statement against the tax. According to Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, they condemn this alarming trend in Africa countries. A growing number of states in Africa have begun to impose taxes on the use of various digital communication services.

The Zambian government recently announced the creation of a new online tax where phone calls made over the Internet will be subject to a daily levy.

Moreover, earlier this year, the government of Uganda forged a policy to impose taxation on social media platforms to curb what is referred to as ‘Lugambo’ (gossip) by the President on platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) is pressuring the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission for similar practices to be adopted in Nigeria. According to ALTON, the activities of the OTT service providers are eating into the revenue telcos used to enjoy.

Slowing Down ICT Development in the Region

According to Qémal Affagnon, West Africa Coordinator of Internet Sans Frontières, regulations to tax the use of messaging applications or social networks are tariff barriers to free expression, which must be denounced. To put the burden of this funding on the shoulders of users is an unfair choice that violates freedom of expression and threatens everyone’s access to a free and open Internet.

This tax clearly only focused on financial gain and undermines the current efforts to bring accessibility of ICT to African countries.

Internet Penetration in Benin currently stands at 33.1 percent, in Zambia, it is 41.2 percent, in Uganda it is 42.9 percent, and in Nigeria is 50.2 percent. Internet technology has slowly been developing over the years and this move by the government actively stifles its development. It also violates the recommendations of the International Telecommunications Organization regarding the taxation of electronic communications. 

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Black-Owned Blockchain VC Firm SADA Launches in South Africa

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South African Digital Assets Partnership

Blockchain VC firm South African Digital Assets Partnership (SADA) launched in South Africa. The venture capital company is black-owned and based in Sandton.

Supporting Blockchain Projects

South African Digital Assets Partnership aims to promote the adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies by supporting projects that solve African challenges. SADA concentrates on tokens, funds, businesses, and projects related to the blockchain and digital assets.

“SADA is incorporated to further build and invest in blockchain projects that seek to address Africa’s needs for a far more efficient and transparent financial system while presenting an amazing opportunity for the people of our country and continent to be part of what we call the “6th Digital Revolution. We call it the “6th Digital Revolution” because we believe what cryptocurrencies and particularly bitcoin have done is position the world to transact and invest in a new digital world,” Zamo Tshabalala, the CEO of SADA, said in a press release.

SADA’s board is comprised of blockchain entrepreneurs such as founder and CEO of Cryptovecs John Lombela, co-founder of GA Capital Mendy Nkosi, and founder of Blueline Accounting Group Hein Schmidt.

SADA’s Funds

South African Reserve BankPresently, SADA is running and managing five funds that strategically serve the diverse needs of investors not only in South Africa but on the entire continent.

“SADA focuses 100 percent on the rapidly evolving digital asset sector, maximising our investors’ capital growth through a proprietary and actively managed investment strategy while placing a key focus on amazing projects and teams changing and improving the African economy through blockchain,” Tshabalala asserted.

Africhain Fund is the entry-level flagship crypto 30 index fund for retail investors. The A-Team Capital Fund is the high entry-level flagship fund for financial advisors, high net worth individuals, investment companies, and fund managers.

SADA has invested in the Digital Rand through its Blockchain Fund. The Digital Rand is the first digital asset to be pegged 1:1 to the South African Rand.

Furthermore, SADA is guided by the relevant regulations in South Africa. According to an official statement, the company explained: “SADA has proactively aligned itself with regulation by being administered by an FSP registered entity, Olwevu Group, and is a member of many blockchain associations including South African Financial Blockchain Consortium (SAFBC) which boasts members such as MMI Holdings, Standard Bank, and other big financial players in South Africa. We understand the importance of regulation with the prevalence of scams that have swept through South Africa in the last four years.”

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First ETHGlobal Hackathon in Africa is Coming to Cape Town

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ETHGlobal

The first ETHGlobal Hackathon in Africa will be held on April 19 to 21, 2019 at The Lookout, V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa.

ETHCapeTown 2019

Organised by ETHGlobal and Linum Labs, the event dubbed ETHCapeTown will see more than 200 international developers, hackers, and blockchain enthusiasts gather to work together to create Ethereum-based decentralised applications (DApps).

ETHGlobalETHGlobal aims to build an ecosystem of Ethereum developers and entrepreneurs with support from the Ethereum Foundation. Linum Labs is a Swiss blockchain development company with an office in South Africa.

Kartik Talwar of ETHGlobal said: “Ethereum development is growing fast, and it is valuable for the developer community in Cape Town to get together, discuss ideas, and push the envelope on what they themselves can do. And this is one of the goals of the hackathon – to simply give developers a place and time to build what they want and to see where their ideas take them.”

ETHCapeTown will bring together people from different backgrounds with a wide range of skillsets where they can share ideas and develop original blockchain-based solutions.

“One of the most notable things we have noticed in the space is the incredible capacity at which developers utilize new tools during time-sensitive environments at hackathons to deliver decentralised solutions that can have real-world impact,” said Devon Krantz of Linum Labs.

Cape Town: Africa’s Growing Tech Hub

Linum LabsAccording to Linum Labs, the ETHGlobal Hackathon will highlight that Cape Town is setting the path for innovation on the continent.

“The ETHCapeTown hackathon is again proving how Cape Town is pioneering the way forward for innovation in Africa. The city’s local tech hub is alive, thriving, and hungry to grow and position itself as a leading destination for emerging technologies,” Krantz stated.

Cape Town has hosted blockchain events such as the Blockchain Africa Conference and Connecting the Blocks, and is home to several notable blockchain startups.

The ETHGlobal Hackathon will be graced by Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, who will be the first official judge of the ETHCapeTown 2019 Hackathon.

Hackathon attendees will be exposed to some of the leading minds in the global blockchain industry and have the opportunity to win prizes for the solutions they build. Registration for the ETHGlobal Hackathon is open now.

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Ghana’s Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Warns Public About Investing in Crypto

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In a recent statement, the SEC of Ghana has warned the populace against investing in cryptocurrency and crypto-related investment schemes. This warning comes amidst a growing concern of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) about how Ghanaians are diving head first into the cryptocurrency market.

SEC Warns About Crypto

The Director General of the SEC, Rev. Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, signed an official statement released by the Commission that cautions the general public about cryptocurrency trading and all crypto-related activities as these are not regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission reports News Ghana

“[Cryptocurrency investments] offered by unregistered and unlicensed entities on digital online trading platforms with promises of high returns on investment are not sanctioned nor registered by the SEC”, the statement read.

The Commission’s statement further read:

Ghana SEC“The SEC wishes to inform the general and investing public that none of these cryptocurrencies is recognised as currency or legal tender in Ghana. The platform on which they are traded are not also licensed nor regulated by the SEC. The SEC would like to make it clear that it does not currently regulate these types of products offerings and their accompanying online trading platforms or Exchanges. Members of the general public who are investing or intend to invest in such currencies or assets may be doing so at their own risk and can in no way be protected under the Securities law regime in Ghana.”

Currently, digital asset trading remains a regulatory and legal grey area in the West African nation. Whereas the SEC has stated that it is presently not in support of or regulating cryptocurrencies, it also has not stated that cryptocurrency trading is illegal.

The regulator only mentions that they are “unregistered, unlicensed, and unregulated under the Securities Law of Ghana“. Thus, this can be very much regarded as a “disclaimer” on the part of the regulatory body to the public to sensitise them that trading in cryptocurrencies in the country presently is only done at one’s own risk.

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