Working Paper 201

The taxation of digital financial services is on the rise in Africa. Ghana is one of the last countries to introduce it – aiming to raise financial resources for national development, and limit the informal economy. The introduction of the Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy) in Ghana raised several protests and concern among the population and mobile money operators, and it is still doubtful whether the tax will raise adequate financial resources.

This paper estimates the impact of the E-Levy on mobile money usage and user perceptions. We use data from the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications on the usage of several mobile money services (sending, receiving, payment, withdrawals) at the national level and disaggregated by region, and nationally representative survey data collected by the ICTD on individuals and businesses. Our analysis also investigates the impact of the E-Levy on tax revenue, with data provided by the Ghana Revenue Authority.

Findings reveal that, despite a short-term decrease in mobile money usage, the E-Levy has had a positive impact in the long term, particularly with respect to payment transactions to formal merchants. The findings from the representative survey show that there is a lack of knowledge regarding the E-Levy’s design details across all regions, indicating a need for improved awareness. Finally, our analysis shows that revenue from the E-Levy has been far below initial projections, raising questions about its ability to raise financial resources for national development.


Marco Carreras

Marco Carreras is an economist by training and works in development economics, focusing on development banks, agricultural economics, energy and corporate taxation. He is a post-doctoral fellow working on the DIGITAX team in the ICTD.

Awa Diouf

Awa is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the ICTD and an economist specialising in public finance in developing and transition countries. She holds a doctorate from the Université Clermont Auvergne in France, and the Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR), a think tank based in Senegal.

Hannelore Niesten

Hannelore Niesten is an ICTD consultant working as a Research Officer for the DIGITAX programme. Hannelore holds a PhD in Law from Maastricht University and Hasselt University (double degree), an LLM in Business and Finance law from George Washington University, Advanced Masters in Tax Law and Notary Law from the Catholic University of Louvain, and Masters in Globalization and Law, and European Law from Maastricht University.
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