Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) Director General Patrick Mutimushi says the authority is still liaising with the line Ministry on the implementation of the 30 Ngwee charge on internet calls.
And Mutimushi has refuted reports that the authority has colluded with government to block Nigerian prophet Andrew Ejimadu popularly known as Seer 1 form being on Facebook.
In September 2018, President Edgar Lungu directed the Ministry of Communications to finalise the statutory instrument to effect the 30 Ngwee internet calling tariff saying people had already accepted it.
President Lungu said this during a video call with some government officials and traditional leaders whilst at Huawei offices in China.
Ministry of Communications Permanent Secretary Misheck Lungu told President Lungu that there was a hiccup with the way the 30 Ngwee tariff was announced.
“I really want to appreciate your guidance and assure you that going forward, we want to implement a broadband strategy and ensure that most of our parts have internet so that all these e-platform activities are going to be rolled out on the internet. And I think we face two hiccups in terms of the way we announce the 30 Ngwee user charge,” said Misheck before President Lungu cut him off saying, “Forget about the 30 Ngwee. It’s gone, it’s not an issue anymore. The people have accepted it. Let’s move. Don’t even talk about it.”
But speaking on Capital FM’s The Big Issue, Monday, Mutimushi said ZICTA was still consulting the Ministry of Communication on how best to implement the charge on internet calls.
“This came up and you remember we had then our former Minister of Transport and Communications Dr Brian Mushimba made announcement that there will be charge on OTT which is Over The Top meaning things like WhatsApp and voice but that has not been implemented yet. I am sure that every one agrees that has not been implemented yet. So there was a policy direction in that, but the implementation has not yet happened. I think we are still liaising with our line Ministries,” Mutimushi said.
And Mutimushi said ZICTA had nothing to do with Seer 1’s closed Facebook pages.
“It is important to note that we have a law; ICT Act talks about consumer protection and within that, we must ensure that consumers are protected. It is funny, I am not just hearing this from you (Frank Mutubila) that government colluded with ZICTA; no, no. You see, even these social platforms, typical Facebook has got something we call Facebook community standards; these are standards that do not promote hate speech. Hate speech is one of the biggest things when it comes to content. So any content that is riding on this platform, it doesn’t mean it cannot be brought down if it goes away from the standards that Facebook has set,” Mutimushi said.
“So it is very very easy to note that this is content that is good for public consumption or it will bring destruction and it is brought down, as simple as that. Because Facebook has got those standards so there is no colluding between ZICTA and the government and so forth! Our role is very clear and the Act says we must protect consumers. So, we are protecting the consumers and the public for some of these vices like hate speech, false advertisement, defamation, extortion and all sorts of things.”
Meanwhile, Mutimushi said ZICTA was not impressed with the performance of mobile operators in the country.
“We are not impressed with the quality of service that comes from operators. I have gone on different platforms and said this and not just gone on different platforms, we have down netted operators with penalties starting in 2017, 2018 up to 2019 I think we did give penalties to operators according to the guidelines that we have in place. But one thing which we have also realized is that quality of service also borders around network investment, meaning upgrade of networks. We have been engaging with operators and we still are engaging with operators, one the biggest thing they have done is to tell us ‘we are investing this amount of money into the networks’ and they have given milestones, implementations or treatment. You will agree with me that last year was bad, really bad and there has been a bit of improvement but not to our satisfaction,” said Mutimushi.