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Zambia to tax online calls to protect telcos

Zambia to tax online calls to protect telcos

Daily tariff of US$0.30 to be charged through mobile phone operators and ISPs.

The Zambian government has introduced a 30 Ngwee (US$0.30) daily tariff on all internet based phone calls including WhatsApp, Skype and Viber to protect MTN, Airtel and Zamtel.

In a statement Dora Siliya, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services said the government decided on the move after "noticing an increase in the number of people making internet phone calls at the expense of traditional phone calls thereby impacting on telco operations."

Siliya said, "The use of internet phone calls is threatening the telecommunications industry and jobs in companies such as Zamtel, MTN, and Airtel. Government has therefore introduced a 30 Ngwee-a-day tariff on internet calls."

However, a source at the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) told ITWeb Africa that the government's decision was made after the release of a ZICTA report which showed that 80% of Zambians were now using online platforms WhatsApp, Viber and Skype to make phone calls.

The source added that the report was compiled with the help of the three mobile phone operators and internet service providers following numerous complaints by the operators to the regulatory body.

The tariff will be charged through mobile phone network operators and ISPs, but will only become effective once the government issues a Statutory Instrument (SI).

There is no clarification from officials as to when the SI will be introduced.

To date none of the mobile operators have commented on the government's decision.