The world has irreversibly gone digital prompting hardware and software manufacturers to pre-occupy themselves with how to deliver more, faster and on the smallest device possible.
This has spawned strong demand for smartphones across all sectors and income groups, making price a key barrier to ownership as can be read from the thriving counterfeit market in urban centres.
That suggests a smart government should keep the cost of the handsets as affordable as possible, not least to spur the delivery of public services online.
The flip side of this is that government would lose revenue by removing the taxes levied on handsets, a trade off that has prompted the Treasury and the ICT ministry to commission a study to inform how best to make smartphones cheaper for the ordinary Kenyan.
This is a timely move because it will enable more Kenyans acquire the appliances which are key to delivering modern education, health, security and farming content to the population.
The social benefits of bringing phone prices down already overwhelmingly outweigh what the Treasury would lose in terms of revenue.
The Treasury should urgently consider removing VAT on handsets and reducing excise duty on mobile phone services even as the study is being carried out.
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