The Zambian government will introduce a tax on internet phone calls with a view to protect jobs in the communication sector.

Information Minister Dora Siliya on Monday said the cabinet had approved an executive order that would see the introduction of a 30 ngwee ($0.03) daily tariff charged on online phone calls.

“Cabinet has noted that there is an increase in the use of internet phone calls at the expense of traditional phone calls and this threatens the telecommunications industry and jobs in companies such as Zamtel, Bharti Airtel and MTN Zambia,” said Ms Siliya.

She said the levy will be charged through telecom operators and internet providers.

Siliya said that research has shown that 80 per cent of the citizens in Zambia are using WhatsApp, skype, and Viber to make phone calls.

Cybercrime laws

The cabinet also approved the proposal to introduce tough new cybercrime laws to regulate social media use, curb hate speech, fight cyber-crime and pornography.

The country's main opposition party has condemned the move saying subscribers are already taxed for using social media platforms.

Zambia's actions come barely two months after Uganda introduced a similar tax on users of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.