Government to Implement a Blank Tape Levy on Electronic Gadgets

CS Ababu Namwamba
Ababu Namwamba, CS for Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports

The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has today announced the implementation of the Blank Tape levy. The new levy set to commence on September 15, 2023, seeks to boost royalties collection in Kenya.

According to a statement released by the body, the levy will be imposed on any digital and electronic device with recording capacity that may be used to copy or record copyrighted content. These “blank devices” include smartphones, smart watches, USB drives, and laptops/computers among others.

Part of the statement reads, “This is to notify the general public of the commencement of the implementation of the Blank Tape Levy with effect from September 15, 2023, pursuant to sections 28(3)(6) and 30(6) of the Copyright Act and the second schedule part B of the Copyright Regulations 2020.”

The statement further adds that the levy will be paid by importers and local manufacturers of the “blank devices.”

The Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports, Ababu Namambwa had explained levy was key as the Government revamps the royalties collection system. While speaking in an interview with Kenyans Media, “If we are able to launch it [Blank Tape], the collection of royalties will go up ten-fold.”

According to Ezekiel Mutua, the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) CEO, the implementation of this levy will generate an estimated KES. 6 billion annually in the country.

The Government recently adjusted the taxes on imported mobile devices which saw an increase in the price of said devices. Additionally, there was a shortage of smartphones resulting from the increased import duty and delays in customs clearance as reported by Techcabal.

We wait to see how the new levy will impact the prices of gadgets once enforced.