Protests: Zambia Explains Why They Taxed Internet Calls

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In a recent move by the Zambian government to place  a 30 Ngwe ($0.1) tariff Zambians have registered their displeasure and outright objection of the move.

Bloggers, opposition leaders, civil society groups and others affected are calling for an immediate removal of the tax.

“We are concerned about the proposed tariff of 30 Ngwe per day because it is a major threat to freedom of expression, access to information, media rights, freedom of assembly online an affront to the enjoyment of digital rights,” the bloggers said in a joint statement issued with MISA Zambia.

However, Zambia’s Minister for Communication and Broadcast Services, Dora Siliya, has defended Cabinet’s decision to introduce a tariff on internet calls saying the decision was taken in order to save local jobs.

In a series of Tweets, Ms Siliya said local jobs in the telecoms industry are threatened by the migration towards internet calls.

“Jobs such as call centre workers, talk time sellers, conventional call technicians will reduce drastically if more Zambians migrate to internet calls and create jobs in America and elsewhere. Let’s keep our jobs. Zambians need them,” Ms. Siliya posted.

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She explained that the tariff will be effected once an internet call only is detected and is a one off payment per day whatever number of calls made on that day.

““What we have seen over the past few years is a migration of voice calls…people moving to VOIP,people making calls over WhatsApp and FB what that has done is created several paradigm shifts and as GRZ we need to think through many of these things” she said.

“What’s up and Facebook internet calls creating unfair competition as they don’t pay taxes in Zambia while conventional call providers pay tax and invest in infrastructure in Zambia. Zambian jobs first!”

She said Zambians should support government’s decision as it is in the best interest of the nation.

“What’s up, Facebook messages etc no tariff. 30 ngwee tariff on Internet calls to support infrastructure to improve and expand network and save jobs. Zamtel,Airtel & MTN invest in infrastructure. What’s up, Facebook don’t but getting richer. Zambian jobs first!” Lusaka Times

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