Laws impacting entrepreneurship and tech innovation in Africa

  • Afriwise connects businesses with the legal and regulatory information they need to operate on the continent. For a report we recently launched focused on tech for the legal sector in Africa, Afriwise pulled together some examples of legislation that may affect tech innovation or entrepreneurship or offer tech opportunities in some of the countries our platform is live in. Some of these laws are outlined below:

    ZAMBIA: Zambia’s Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, No. 14 of 2019,which took effect on 1 January 2020, made the payment of VAT mandatory on revenue derived from electronic services that use the internet, mobile telecommunications networks and other electronic commerce infrastructure, whether the provider of the service has a fixed place of business in Zambia or not.

    UGANDA: The National Payment Systems Act, 2020, which was passed by Parliament in May 2020, is aimed at regulating payment systems, payment service providers, the issuance of electronic money and generally provides for the oversight of payment instruments. The Act also provides for a regulatory sandbox framework to test new technology in the financial services sector and encourage innovation.

    NIGERIA: The Electronic Transaction Bill, 2019 seeks, among others,
    to promote and regulate eCommerce transactions in Nigeria by making provision for the security of online transactions and the validity of electronic signatures. The Bill provides the legal and regulatory framework for the protection of the rights of consumers and other parties in electronic transactions and services, as well as to make detailed provisions for the protection of personal data.

    TANZANIA: The Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations, 2020, which came into force in July 2020, set out rules for the regulation of online content on the internet.

    They apply to all content broadcasted to the public through websites, blogs, application software, forums, instant-messaging tools, online live streaming and aggregators, among others.

    The regulations set out obligations for bloggers, internet cafes, online content hosts, online forums, online radio or television, social media, subscribers and users of online content, and any other online content. They also place restrictions on information disclosure and prohibit certain content that is considered undesirable.

    SOUTH AFRICA: In 2019, new regulations came into effect that widen the application of VAT to foreign suppliers of electronic services in South Africa.

    Electronic services encompass any services supplied by means of an electronic agent, electronic communication or the internet for any consideration, and includes online shopping portals; web-based broadcasting; and downloading e-books, music and film; and online booking services, among others.

    KENYA: The Finance Bill, 2020 proposes to introduce digital services tax, payable by persons or businesses whose income arises from providing services derived from or accruing in Kenya through a digital marketplace. The tax,which is likely to be effective from 1 January 2021, will be due at the time of transfer of the payment for the service to the service provider and charged at a rate of 1,5% of the gross transaction value.

    Further, the Draft Value Added Tax (Digital Marketplace Supply)Regulations, 2020 offer guidelines on the taxation of VAT on taxable supplies made through a digital market place. They define “digital market supply” as any supply of a service made over a platform that enables the direct interaction between buyers and sellers of services through electronic means. The scope of taxable supplies includes:

    -downloadable digital content, including downloading of mobile applications, e-books and movies;

    -subscription-based media, including news, magazines, journals, streaming of TV shows and music, podcasts and online gaming;

    -software programs, including downloading of software, drivers, website filters and firewalls;

    -electronic data management, including website hosting, online data warehousing, file-sharing and cloud storage services;

    -supply of music, films and games;

    -supply of distance teaching via pre- recorded medium or e-learning, including supply of online courses and training;

    -supply of digital content for listening, viewing or playing on any audio, visual or digital media; and

    -supply of services on online marketplaces that links the supplier to the recipient,including transport hailing platforms.

    Afriwise's Tech for the Legal Sector in Africa report explores how Covid-19 is driving legal-tech transformation across the continent.  You can download the full report here.