Last week, reports emerged in Zambia that Telecom Namibia and four other unlicensed international data transit operators, were illegally offering services to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) using the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) infrastructure.
ZICTA Public Relations Officer, Hanford Chaaba, told the Windhoek Observer on Tuesday that the action by the five companies had deprived the Zambian Government of much needed revenue as they did not pay tax since they were not registered entities in Zambia.
Telecom Namibia was fined 75, 000 kwacha after a directive by ZICTA to Zesco to cut access to unlicensed international data transit operators that were illegally offering services to ISPs in Zambia using the electricity company’s infrastructure.
The identified unlicensed international transit operators included PCCW Global, Wananchi Telecom, West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) and GilatSatcom.
Chaaba said tax avoidance was illegal, while urging companies operating in the ICT sector in that country to legalise and normalise their operations and follow laid down procedures as stipulated by laws governing the sector.
“This is contrary to Section 9 of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Act No. 15 of 2009,” he said.
“According to Section 9 of the ICT Act, it is against the law for any firm or individual to operate an Electronic Communications Network or provide an Electronic Communications Service without a licence issued under the Act,” he said.
Telecom Namibia Managing Director, Theodorus Klein, said this week that they had honoured the fine last week, but clarified that they did not have operations in that country.
He denied that Telecom Namibia was directly providing services to Zambia’s ISPs, adding that negotiations were underway with all parties involved to resolve the matter within the next 60 days.
“We have picked up that issue with the regulator in Zambia with one customer called Micro Link. What the regulator in Zambia wants is that for the services from the Namibian border to Lusaka, they want the invoice to be issued to the operator or our customer in Zambia by a Zambian licenced operator.
“We have honoured our part for now as we paid the 75, 000 kwacha fine that we got from ZICTA last week already and we wait to deliberate more on the issue going forward to avoid such anomalies.
“In this particular case for Micro Link, Telecom Namibia was issuing the invoice to Micro Link, including the portion from the Namibian border at Katima Mulilo to Lusaka. We do not have any infrastructure or office of any sort in Zambia, but we only provide the services through a third party Zesco.”
Klein said the three parties (Telecom, Zesco and Micro Link) met last week, where they discussed the way forward that Telecom Namibia will only issue an invoice to Zesco for the traffic up to the Zambian border and Zesco will then issue the invoice to Micro Link for the portion from the border to Lusaka.