The authorities of Zambia have decided to introduce a tax on telephone calls via the internet. A decision, according to the Zambian government, to protect conventional telecommunication companies. But the announcement goes wrong among the population and different voices are already rising to criticize this measure.
The project of the Zambian government provides for a tax of about three cents, which is levied daily for telephone conversations via the internet.
To justify this decision, the government spokesman, Dora Siliya, points to the increase in the number of calls via the internet at the expense of traditional phone calls. According to her, online telephony services such as Skype, WhatsApp or Viber threaten the telecommunications industry and employment at telephone companies in Zambia.
Many civil society activists in Zambia consider it a restriction of freedom. This is the case of Richard Mulonga, the head of the NGO Bloggers, who denounces an intentional attack on the freedom of expression and association. Opposition leader Hackainde Hichilema also responded and described the new tax as " flight in daylight ".
Costs rejected by the Zambian Minister of Communications. The latter states that this tax concerns only a small part of the population. According to him, there are three types of players on the market of mobile applications that do not all benefit, explains Brian Mushimba.
" First yourself. You make these calls via the internet at very low costs. There is an application to help you. And this app that you downloaded on your phone for free, you create this service because the company that created it sells your data. The third player is the government with the telecom companies in the country. They invest a lot in infrastructure : fiber optics, broadband, antennas, to enable these calls. And they are only to bear the costs. You use us as a driving belt and you pay nothing to the authorities while you use our infrastructure that has been built by huge investments. Internet companies must sit at the table while we start using 4G. So we can do it together because they benefit from it. "
According to a local study by the ZICTA, the authority for communication technology, 80% of Zambians prefer to call via the Internet. The tax could provide a $ 22 million loan for the state treasury. According to the minister, this bill will become reality within 30 to 45 days.