Zambia’s government has said it expects to generate around USD22 million each year following the decision to implement a new tax on voice calls made using VoIP technology. According to The EastAfrican, last week the cabinet gave its approval to a ZMK0.30 (USD0.03) daily levy which will apply to VoIP calls. In the wake of the decision, communications minister Brian Mushimba was cited as saying that the government had moved forward only after considering concerns raised by operators with regards to the plans, while he noted that the state had ultimately come to ‘a quick realisation by government that there is a huge revenue loss that comes with internet calls’. The new levy will be charged through both national fixed line incumbent Zamtel and the nation’s ISPs.
The new tax has already met with criticism, however, with claims by some that it threatens to hinder free speech. In a joint statement, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zambia and the Bloggers of Zambia said of the tax: ‘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.’