Zambians have appealed to authorities to remove taxes on mobile devices and thereby reduce the cost for ordinary users.
Stakeholders want the Zambian government to do away with import duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) on smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices to increase mobile phone and internet penetration, as well as data consumption.
Submissions to this effect have been made to the Ministry of Finance and National Planning towards the 2016 national budget.
The claim made in submissions is that tax and import duty applied to mobile phone devices account for a significant portion of the cost of access to the internet and this has made it expensive.
Mutale Mubanga, who made a submission on behalf of several others, said the devices are too expensive for ordinary Zambians and as such, restricts their freedom to access data services.
“Import duty on smartphones and tablets should be removed. Equipment for the telecom sector should also be suspended for three years in order to complement the efforts of service providers in expanding their network coverage countrywide,” Mubanga said.
He said the idea behind the submission was also to enable more of the country’s 10.5 million subscribers to upgrade to affordable smartphones so that they can consume more data.
He said communication has started shifting from voice to data hence the need for more widespread access to data services.
According to the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) less than 3 million people have access to the internet in the country. MTN, Airtel and Zamtel are the three mobile phone operators currently operating in Zambia.
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