Governments in Africa should lower import tariffs on handsets to make them more affordable and to boost internet adoption, MTN CEO Rob Shuter says. A 10% increase in broadband penetration brings a 1.4% increase in GDP growth in emerging markets, the World Bank has said. Slightly more than a fifth of Africa’s population used the internet in 2017, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In Europe, that number was as high as 80%. Shuter said that of MTN’s 223-million subscribers across the Middle East and Africa, only about 70-million were active data users, despite the operator’s efforts to up coverage. "The bigger problem now, rather than coverage, is the affordability of devices," Shuter said at the ITU Telecom World conference in Durban this week. He was addressing an audience that included minister of telecommunications & postal services Siyabonga Cwele.

Shuter said many African markets had "very high" import duties on handsets, which meant phones were ...

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