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Novel Mobile Coverage in Tanzania and Levies from Zimbabwe

Readers will recall that Google launched a number of high-flying balloons back in 2019 to provide central Kenya with internet coverage, now UK-based connectivity provider World Mobile has outlined plans to launch a hybrid mobile network supported by low altitude balloons as the first step in an ambitious plan to launch affordable internet services across Africa. World Mobile explained in a statement it will remotely control the aerostat balloons powered by solar panels and inflated by helium, adding that once airborne, the balloons act as floating cellular base stations transmitting radio signals to ground stations and personal devices. World Mobile has raised $40m for the balloon project and aims to deliver coverage to more than one million people in Zanzibar by the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, not such an inspiring story, Zimbabwe has introduced a new $50 levy on imported cell phone devices. It already levies a 25% tax on imports of smartphones, another on voice and data top-ups, and a separate 2% tax on all electronic financial transactions. This is part of a move to ramp up revenues to meet government expenditure which is expected to nearly double in 2022.  Instead of the tax on new mobiles being collected by state revenue authorities on imported electronic gadgets, the Zimbabwean levy will be collectable by mobile operators on the registration of the cell phones. This is to avoid people evading the tax.


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