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General News Thu, 24 Feb 2000

Ministry seeks duty-free facility for IT equipment

Accra, Feb. 24, GNA - The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) is negotiating with the Ministry of Finance to remove duties on Information Technology (IT) equipment and components.

The MOTI is also in the process of formulating a national industrial policy, which would be geared mainly towards the establishment of a computer assembly plant and a computer parts production factory.

Commander P. M. G. Griffiths, a deputy minister of Trade and Industry, who announced this at the launch of AUWA computers and peripherals in Ghana, said these are to ensure that computers and IT equipment are affordable.

The ceremony, organised by Zytec Telecom Limited, local representatives of the Johannesburg-based AUWA Computers Limited, was to introduce several ranges of computers and peripherals assembled and distributed by AUWA for the first time on the West African market, using Ghana as the gateway.

To stamp the gateway status of Ghana in the distribution of AUWA computers and accessories on the West African market, Zytec has been given the mandate to assemble AUWA computers in the country.

Cdr. Griffiths noted that currently IT equipment and components imported into the country attract not less than 15 per cent duty, and said such a high duty contributes to their non-affordability on the local market.

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Another reason for the non-affordability of IT equipment in Ghana is the continuous importation of fully assembled computers and their peripherals into the country.

"We cannot continue to import finished or fully assembled computers and their peripherals if we have to bring down the prices of computers to an affordable level."

Cdr. Griffiths said the ministry is, therefore, organising a series of workshops to formulate an integrated industrial policy for micro, small and medium scale industries. These workshops will end up in a national policy conference in June to formulate that policy.

The Deputy Minister said the duty-free facility being sought for the IT sector would soon cut across the importation of all other capital equipment in the industrial sector.

He said the ministry is also involved in a serious dialogue with private sector stakeholders to provide support for industry at all levels. This is to create a framework of assistance and to harmonise intra-sectoral and multi-sectoral collaboration to meet the challenges of globalisation and liberalisation.

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Cdr. Griffiths praised Zytec for its move towards the assembling of computers in the country and pledged government's support for all companies and organisations which would take steps to help the country catch up with the world in IT advancement.

The two companies, AUWA and Zytec, donated 100 million cedis worth of computers and accessories to the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, University of Cape Coast, Central University College (CUC), Accra, and the education unit of the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM).

In separate speeches read on their behalf, Mr John Mahama, Minister of Communications and Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Education, praised the two companies for the donations to the institutions and their move to assemble computers in the country.

They also expressed satisfaction at the emphasis the two companies place on the affordability of quality computers in Ghana and pledged the support of their ministries to the companies in the common effort towards increasing the ownership and use of computers among Ghanaians.

Mr Michael Zomelo, President of Zytec, announced that there would be flexible terms of payment for their products. Customers would make 40 per cent down payment and spread the rest over six months.

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Dr Magang Mmereki Phologane, South African High Commissioner in Ghana, challenged KNUST to live up to its name by gearing its effort at the production of computers and other innovations in science and technology.

"It would be almost grossly negligent if we remain users and consumers of science and technology and not producers. That will undermine the name you bear, as the University of Science and Technology and the fact that you are named after the most illustrious son of Africa, Dr Kwame Nkrumah".

There was a raffle draw in which Ernestina Lomo, an Accra-based assembly woman, won the grand prize of a complete personal computer and its accessories.

Source: GNA