ICT Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira feels that its about time the SADC region considers levying Over the Top Services such as WhatsApp and Facebook for riding upon SADC infrastructure.
Addressing SADC heads of communication, Mandiwanzira said the telecom industry in the Sadc region is bleeding its revenues to OTTS who use their infrastructure to earn billions of dollars. Zimbabwe is said to have a potential monetary loss to OTTS of about $26 million while losing 186 million voice minutes.
I think that there is something terribly wrong that we as African governments in developing countries spend huge resources, taxpayers’ money in building infrastructure, our mobile networks they borrow huge amounts of money from China, Europe to fund roll out of networks.
“The same way we are investing millions and millions of dollars in ICTs which we must recover at some point we ought to get a benefit at some point from anyone who is using that infrastructure for commercial purposes. If google , Facebook, Twitter were simply using the infrastructure that we built for non-commercial purposes we shouldn’t be making noise.
He added that the delegates should consider tackling this issue by coming up with strategies that can trap some money that Sadc should be getting.
“Before they are able to pay back these monies, some clever smart Alex from Silicon Valley and elsewhere start earning more money than you actually do. And then we just sit there and say its part of globalisation. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.
The minister added that had these OTTS came in Sadc in the name of non-profit making organisations, they wouldn’t even though of a notion of charging them.
“I think you touched on the issue of Over the Top Services, and that you have come up with a position that you are going to present at the next Sadc Meeting of Ministers of ICT. I think it’s a very very important issue and serious issue. I think that we have to take measures and take those measures seriously, because the technologies are always changing very fast we miss the opportunity to earn revenue if we don’t take the decisions immediately and implement them,” added the minister.
“But because they make a lot of money out of the infrastructure that we have created. Surely there must be a reasonable way of recovering that money,” he said.