The Zambian government has introduced new tax on internet phone calls, which is expected to raise $22 million annually. The cabinet approved a 30ngwee (0.3 kwacha; $0.03) daily tariff charged on online phone calls.
According to Transport and Communications Minister, Brian Mushimba, the amount is as a result of the government consideration of concerns raised by telecom operators.
He added that there was “a quick realisation by government that there is a huge revenue loss that comes with internet calls.”
Information Minister Dora Siliya, announcing the cabinet approval, said the government’s decision was aimed at protecting jobs in the telecommunication industry. The country has three telecom operators; state-owned Zamtel, Bharti Airtel and MTN.
However, activists in the country are up in arms about the tax and have called on the government to withdraw the tariff saying it clamps down on free speech.
“It is a major threat to freedom of expression, access to information, media rights, freedom of assembly online, and an affront to the enjoyment of digital rights,” a joint statement by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zambia and the Bloggers of Zambia read.
They added that the government should instead consider investing more in the ICT sector to ensure that all citizens have access to affordable and reliable internet.
More Tech News:
- Ghana’s e-Commerce Platform, Tonaton.com is Planning to Launch Drone Deliveries
- Lagos State Govt. Launches Yaba ICT Cluster Project, Targets $10bn Revenue
- Uganda Government Gets Shs7billion from Social Media Tax
- Social Media as a Double-Edged Sword; a Blessing and a Menace
- MTN Nigeria aims to expand voice and data network, signs a seven-year N200 billion loan.