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    Zambians protest introduction of tax on internet calls


    Zambians are protesting the implementation of a 30 Ngwe ($0.1) levy on internet calls over platforms like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber, Africa news reports.

    The resolution to implement the new tariff was passed by Zambia’s cabinet chaired by president Edgar Lungu on Monday.

    Journalists were told that the new tariff was designed to protect the telecommunications industry and jobs in such companies, following the ‘rise in the use of internet phone calls at the expense of traditional phone 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," the country's information minister and government spokesperson, Dora Siliya wrote on twitter.
    Government claims that 80% of the eight million active users (first quarter of 2018) are using Whatsapp, Viber and Skype to make calls.

    Zambians including bloggers, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens have since cried foul over the new tariff, arguing that mobile subscribers acquire data bundles from the telecommunications companies, in order to access the platforms in question.

    The Bloggers of Zambia issued a statement on Tuesday, calling on the government to withdraw the tariff and the other Cyber laws that are in the pipeline.

    “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 join statement issued with MISA Zambia.

    The government also intends to introduce the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill, which it says will promote responsible use of digital platforms and safeguard users of electronic platforms which include social media from unscrupulous users that mean harm.

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