Internet Calls Digital Taxation in Zambia

In August 2018 Zambia revealed plans for a form of internet taxation which would apply to OTT service providers such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber. 

In the face of mounting criticism Information Minister and Government spokesperson Dora Siliya released a statement claiming that the tax was an answer to internet based multinational operators threatening the business of physical mobile operators in Zambia, adding that the tax would help save Zambian jobs such as call centres, technicians and talk time sellers.

Despite Ms Siliya's remarks, the proposed tax was met with staunch opposition on social media. Peter Mwanangombe, a project director at the online rights group Bloggers of Zambia, has claimed that the tax is akin to charging people for freedom of expression. Centre for Trade Policy and Development Economist Trevor Simumba claims that one goal of the tax is to curtail free speech and drive more phone calls towards state owned operators. 

Although the tax has been passed by Cabinet, it has not yet been effectively implemented and it remains to be seen whether or not it will take effect.