WayForward@ITREALMS

Monday, July 18, 2005

African CSOs demand 2% VAT to boost ICT dev

THE continental Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), ended its session on African Regional Preparatory Meeting (ARPM) for the World Telecommunication Development (WTDC), slated for 2006 in Qatar, at the recently in Abuja, with a call on African governments to devote two per cent of their Value Added Tax (VAT) to boost their involvement in bridging the digital divide.

The support if approved would enable CSOs specializing on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) improve on their work in closing the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’ on the continent.

Presenting the CSOs’ synthesized recommendations to the multi-stakeholders meeting Sunday evening at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Mr. George Christensen of the World Conference of Community Radio Broadcasters otherwise known as AMARC, said that this would immensely helpful to specialized CSOs.

He also said that CSOs demanded for 10 per cent of this total vote to be channeled to ICT-based civil groups.

This, he explained would facilitate their activities in contributing to ICT for development initiative.

Speaking earlier, the Coordinator, Action Aid International Nigeria and Association Progressive Communication (APC) policy animator for the country, Hajia Jummai Umar, lamented that VAT being collected all over the continent is yet to be accounted for by the leading class and government.

She further told the joint session on harmonising its recommendation to ARPM for onward inclusion into WTDC working document to also form partnership among them.

This, she said, would equally form the basis of networking among civil societies working on similar projects to share information and experiences.

Leader, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) and immediate past President, Nigerian Information Technology (IT) Youth Ambassador, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, in his presentation, lamented the poor budget allocation to the youth in most African nations.

“They are usually less than 20 per cent of the annual budget,” he declared.

He also called for the establishment of youth office in the ministries in-charge of ICT across the continent.

Building human capacity, he said, should be focused on the youth, if the challenges facing future leadership are expected to witness a change for the 21 century development on the continent.

He maintained that there is need for the establishment of Youth Technology Fund (YTF).

This, he said, should be bank-rolled by ICT operators in Africa.
Additionally, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, who currently manages the Lagos Digital Village (LDV), said that by investing some of their profits to the fund, operators would be reinvesting on the youth.

Hence, promoting positive peer pressure through evolving training of the trainers’ scheme.

Pointing out that it would make them responsive to the needs of different able and physically challenged persons among the youth.

Mr. Gbenga further called for establishment of youth regional exchange programme, mostly on research induced projects.

Stressing that consideration for youth empowerment should revolve around harnessing the creative energies, matching investments on development and maintenance.

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