New Income Tax in Rwanda Causing Major Financial Strain for Many Mobile Money Agents
By Janviere Uwimana
Justin Nshimiyimana’s roadside stall is a popular destination for the unbanked residents of Gisenyi, a town in western Rwanda. Nshimiyimana works as a mobile money agent for MTN Rwanda, the country’s largest telecommunications company.
Five years ago, when he began offering cellphone-based financial services such as cash transfers and deposits, the business brought in enough money to pay his rent and utility bills, he says. But Nshimiyimana is strapped for cash now, because of a new corporate income-tax law that the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) implemented in April.
According to the legislation, Nshimiyimana’s monthly earnings, which are computed based on the commission he earns for each sale, are subject to a 15-percent withholding tax. The law applies to all mobile money agents who didn’t declare their annual income to the RRA by March 31 of this year, officials say.
Photo courtesy of Simone McCourtie.