, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 12- Safaricom has called on county governments not to levy new fees on telecommunications infrastructure being laid by mobile operators.
Speaking during the 5th Annual General Meeting on Thursday, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said introduction of new taxes for laying fibre optic cables will result to slow growth of the Information and Communication Technology in the country.
He said it was time for Kenyans in all counties to enjoy equal communication services hence the need for the county leaders to allow smooth telecommunication infrastructure growth.
“We have seen one county like Laikipia, who have attempted to charge fees for someone putting fibre cable on the ground. ICT has the ability to uplift the economy in the counties. The governors that I have been able to talk to have already recognized the ability of ICT,” Collymore said.
“We are urging the governors and the all the leaders in the counties not to take a short term approach because operators will avoid those counties and work with friendly ones.
Despite the growth of the mobile money services in Kenya, Collymore noted the sector is still relatively new and government should be vary of putting any additional tax burden on the customer, and in particular on the poor.
“Taxation in the telecommunication sector in Kenya is amongst the highest in the world with more that Sh28 of every Sh100 that the customer spends going to tax. The past year has seen the taxation net spreading to mobile money transactions,” he noted.
The telecom plans to spend about Sh8 billion over the next four years to lay down 2,300 km of fibre-optic cable and support a rising customer base, a project that has already kicked off in Nairobi.
Meanwhile Collymore also urged governments in the East Africa Community to agree on ways of reducing roaming charges to promote cross border mobile business.
“What we have seen recently is that, governments in the region have started to levy additional taxes on roaming. But as an operator, there is nothing I can do. The cost is simply passed on to the customer and we don’t make profit on roaming. It cannot make sense that it is cheaper to call the US than Uganda,” the CEO said, removing the blame from the mobile operators especially in Kenya.