Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) public relations officer Hanford Chaaba says the authority does not know yet who is supposed to pay user charges on Internet calls because the Statutory Instrument (SI) has not been approved.
And Chaaba says no member of the public has been charged yet for calling using social media platforms as the SI, which will provide a legal basis for doing so, is still been developed.
Meanwhile, Chaaba said the authority has embarked on initiatives aimed at repositioning the postal sector in Zambia to a level where it can compete reasonably with other national postal offices in the region.
In an interview with News Diggers! Chaaba said ZICTA was still waiting for details from the Ministry of Transport and Communications on how the process of charging users would be done.
“As things are now, it’s still at policy level, we were even not supposed to issue any comment. We are supposed to refer you to the Ministry [of communications], but let me say this to you because I know; I have been a reporter and I know you will need to have this. You know, it says Cabinet approved the issuance of the SI that will facilitate the introduction of the tariff, and this tariff will be charged through the mobile operator. I think this is the question that you were trying to find out. It is through the mobile operators and the Internet service providers. Yes, so now, what it is, this approval was for the issuance of the SI, not that the SI was approved. I don’t know whether you are getting it? So, now this is the one now, the SI which will detail other things. ZICTA is the implementer,” Chaaba explained.
“We are the implementer because of the sector where these things will be happening from the ICT sector. Now, as the implementer, we have to rely or we have to be informed by the SI on what we have to implement. So, now, the fact that, we don’t have the SI yet in place, we might not know exactly how the overall process is going to be done because the payments that we are talking about will be detailed in the SI. That is the point at which now we can be at liberty to say, ‘okay, the person who is supposed to pay, or the person who is supposed to pay the user charge is this one.’ This will be determined once the SI is fully developed, approved and implemented. But on the position of ZICTA as an authority, as the implementer, we are waiting for the SI to be in place and once the SI is in place, then we are going to engage members of the public through sensitization so that they understand and appreciate the reasoning behind.”
And Chaaba stressed that no member of the public had been charged yet for calling using social media platforms as the SI, which would provide a legal basis for doing so, was still been developed.
“At the moment, anything regarding the technicalities and the details could be addressed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, through the communications department because it is still at policy level. So, no one has been charged yet for calling using the Internet because it’s only once the SI has been implemented that people now can start paying. No one has been charged yet. So, just enjoy, for now, make those calls and we are still waiting for the details of the SI.”
Meanwhile, Chaaba said ZICTA had embarked on initiatives aimed at repositioning the postal sector in Zambia to a level where it could compete reasonably against other national postal offices in the region.
“You might also be interested to know that, away from that, we implement three pieces of legislation. And one of them, which you might not be aware of, is the Postal Services Act. Now, for us, as the authority, what we have done is we have realised that the postal sector still has the potential to contribute towards national economic development. And because of that, we have started a number of initiatives, which are aimed at repositioning the postal sector in Zambia to a level where it can compete shoulder-to-shoulder with other national postal offices in the region and also at international level. The idea is basically centred on trying to come up with innovations that will transform the postal sector from its traditional kind of orientation, to the modern one, which will be centred on ICTs. Yes, because you know too well that now, ICTs are more less like the backbone of each and every economy,” Chaaba said.
“You cannot talk about any economy without mentioning ICTs…so we are thinking as an authority of trying to ensure that we blend the postal sector with ICT-oriented initiatives that will ensure that our postal sector in Zambia flourishes and then be able to, not only rely on physical delivery of mail; we have to talk about issues where now somebody, if you buy a car, you know that postal and courier services fall under ZICTA. So, for example, if you are receiving a parcel from the Netherlands (Holland) to here, you are able to track it electronically. You are able to track where it is. Those are basically some of the initiatives that we want to ensure that we bring in to the postal services sector or go through other stakeholders to ensure that the sector is vibrant.”
He also said ZICTA was in the process of finalising the issuance of licences to some bus companies to operate as courier services across the country.
“Just also to mention that we are also in the process of normalising the operations of the postal and courier services that have been operating without normal licences from ZICTA. Remember that bus operators, as long as they collect and carry parcels from point A to point B, they need to have a licence from ZICTA and we have been appealing that they come and normalise their business so that at least we can move on the same page. A number of them, yes, have complied, but we know that there could be some that might still be in the business, but do not have licences,” said Chaaba.