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Africa calls for tech tax to fill digital divide

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African leaders have backed plans for a new tax on public sector technology investment in wealthy nations to fund technological infrastructure investment in poorer countries.

The money raised would go to the United Nations-backed Digital Solidarity Fund, which aims to drive economic development by supplying technology, such as satellite phones and computers, to areas without even basic technological infrastructure.

At a meeting in Geneva Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said that the gap between the rich nations in the North and the developing nations in the south was aggravated by the digital divide. According to Reuters, he told the conference: "It is imperative that international measures be taken." Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said it was about empowering poorer nations.

Cities would subscribe to the tax voluntarily. Geneva was the first city to sign up, and now imposes a one percent tax on the profits technology suppliers make on public sector contracts to raise money for the fund. Conference organisers said several others were considering following the Swiss example. ®

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