Large import duties on internet equipment in Ghana needs to be reduced to boost online usage in the West African country.
This is according to the Ghana Internet Services Providers Association (GISPA), which has pointed to alleged expensive pricing for equipment such as routers and modems.
The president of the association, Ernest Brown, has further alleged that this has made access to internet in the country expensive.
Brown has argued that government's quest to increase internet penetration may not be achieved if it does not make the necessary interventions to make it cheap and accessible.
“Prices can be brought down when we have huge numbers of people using the internet. The subscriber equipment that a customer needs to have access to the internet are quite high because there is huge import duty on this equipment,” said Brown.
"These are some of the things we expect government intervention to ensure that we improve internet penetration by reducing the cost of entry,” he added.
He noted that several factors could be attributed to the high cost of internet in Ghana, such as the stability of the local currency, import duties on equipment and the lack of local content.
He explained that the stability of the cedi is key because the country purchases most of its bandwidth from other nations.
“If the ISP or the internet service provider needs to meet its obligation, one always needs to forecast where the cedi will be in the next year or so and based on that you do certain price adjustments.
"There is the possibility that internet prices may go up because now we have increases in VAT, there are increases in utility tariffs and of course coupled with the stability of the cedi," he said.
He went on further to say that "unless certain measures are taken, then it will be difficult to bring these
Internet penetration in Ghana is expected to be 17% for 2013, according to BuddeComm research.
The core mandate of the association is to protect the interest of ISPs in Ghana, to increase the widespread adoption of internet access and services throughout the country as well as resolving issues affecting ISPs.