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Zambia Introduces Tariffs on Internet Phone Calls

Some African governments are devising various means of taxing over the top services like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, and so on. These OTTs are usually free but are accessible through the network of operators in the telecommunications industry. The result is the use of OTTs to facilitate communication with peers rather than subscribing to plans offered by mobile operators. This results in revenue loss to mobile operators and consequently to the government since low profitability reduces the taxes paid to the government.

Zambia is the latest country to introduce a tariff on internet phone calls such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber. The government made this decision during the 12th cabinet meeting held on Monday, August 12, 2018. Users of OTTs like WhatsApp, Skype, and Viber will pay 30 Ngwee a day ($0.03). The tax will be collected by mobile phone operators and internet providers.

Uganda introduced a similar levy (an excise duty) in May 2018. Critics of these levies view same as curtailing freedom of expression. What do you think? Should taxing internet phone calls be a solution to reduced taxes from operators in the telecommunications industry?

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