Category Archives: telco

Benin is the latest African nation taxing the internet

taxationBenin has joined a growing list of African states imposing levies for using the internet.

The government passed a decree in late August taxing its citizens for accessing the internet and social-media apps. The directive, first proposed in July, institutes a fee (link in French) of 5 CFA francs ($0.008) per megabyte consumed through services like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. It also introduces a 5% fee, on top of taxes, on texting and calls, according to advocacy group Internet Sans Frontières (ISF).

The new law has been denounced, with citizens and advocates using the hashtag #Taxepamesmo (“Don’t tax my megabytes”) to call on officials to cancel the levy. The increased fees will not only burden the poorest consumers and widen the digital divide, but they will also be “disastrous” for the nation’s nascent digital economy, says ISF’s executive director Julie Owono. A petition against the levy on Change.org has garnered nearly 7,000 signatures since it was created five days ago.

The West African nation joins an increasing number of African countries that have introduced new fees for accessing digital spaces. Last month, Zambia approved a tax on internet calls in order to protect large telcos at the expense of already squeezed citizens. In July, Uganda also introduced a tax for accessing 60 websites and social-media apps, including WhatsApp and Twitter, from mobile phones. Officials in Kampala also increased excise duty fees on mobile-money transactions from 10% to 15%, in a bid to reduce capital flight and improve the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio.

Digital-rights advocates say these measures are part of wider moves to silence critics and the vibrant socio-political, cultural, and economic conversations taking place online. The adoptions of these taxes, they say, could have a costly impact not just on democracy and social cohesion, but on economic growth, innovation, and net neutrality. Paradigm Initiative, a Nigerian company that works to advance digital rights, has said it was worried Nigeria would follow Uganda’s and Zambia’s footsteps and start levying over-the-top media services like Facebook and Telegram that deliver content on the internet.

But taxing the digital sector might have a negative impact in the long run. Research has already shown that Uganda’s ad hoc fees could cost its economy $750 million in revenue this year alone. “These governments are killing the goose that lays the golden egg,” Owono said.

source: www.qz.com

Telkom SA calls for digital economy summit (South Africa)

-fs-Sipho-Maseko-1-2018.xlTelkom South Africa has called for a multi-sectoral digital economy summit to be convened and attended by operators, the industry regulator, vertical market representatives, tertiary education institutions and other telecommunications industry stakeholders.

In his keynote address to delegates at the 2018 Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC), Group CEO Telkom SA Sipho Maseko said this would provide a forum to address the question of how to generate economic growth.

The question of how relevant stakeholders will contribute had to be asked and answered.

These questions are not only for operators said Maseko, and it is envisaged that the platform would serve as a forum for all stakeholders to state their position.

Maseko identified several drivers of economy including investment in infrastructure to deliver ubiquitous connectivity, skills and subject matter experts across the spectrum, fair competition and regulation.

In addition to the role of data within an ever-changing market and the influence of the digitised consumer, Maseko also touched upon the issue of regulation.

Telkom SA remains embroiled in a dispute with ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of SA) regarding plans to reduce call termination rates – the price mobile and fixed network operators charge each other for terminating calls between networks.

According to a recent ITWeb report, the company has affirmed that unless the regulator’s draft call termination rates are not amended, it may have to change its business model, stop operations in rural areas and possibly have to cut jobs.

It has reportedly issued a counter-proposal to ICASA and stated that under the regulator’s proposed changes, it would “continue to effectively subsidise the larger mobile network operators.”

Government’s intention and objectives behind the wireless open access network proposed in the draft Electronic Communications Amendment Bill has also attracted widespread attention within the local telecommunications space.

“Regulation and policy can be a big enabler for data growth… but regulation must keep up with the market and tech advances. Regulators sometimes almost exclude themselves from the debate. The question is how do we get the economy to recover?” said Maseko.

He also cautioned that call termination rates and proposals have not recognised the fact that the market has converged, and regulation has to enable investment.

source: www.itwebafrica.com