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Internet costs increase in Zimbabwe as ISPs hit with new tax

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Zimbabwe , 16 Feb 2022

Internet costs have shot up in Zimbabwe after the government enforced a new 10% excise duty on internet service providers.

Although mobile internet has boosted connectivity in the country, ISPs are becoming increasingly popular, especially among users that want large data packages.

Research from the country’s industry regulator Potraz shows that from the beginning of 2021, out of 54 000 users, residential fibre subscriptions constituted 87.6% of total active fibre subscriptions and the country’s total internet subscriptions stood at 9 million.

This week ZOL Zimbabwe issued an advisory notice to customers which reads: “As a result of regulatory changes, ZOL Zimbabwe is required to levy a 10% excise duty across all internet and VoIP packages effective 1 March 2022.”

Despite the need for high-cost infrastructure, ISP-sourced internet is relatively cheaper than mobile internet - although coverage is not as wide as mobile.

Critics of the new tax argue that it weighs down on service provider operations and drives up the cost of access to the internet.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa stated: “Over taxation of the telecommunications industry has been attributed as heavily contributing to the high cost of internet access in Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe has an internet penetration rate of over 60%, but with the cost of data increasing – as a result of new taxes and hyperinflation – telecommunication services providers warn the rate will drop.

Apart from the high cost of connectivity, there is also the US$50 levy enforced on imported smartphones, which has resulted in more expensive devices.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is also expected to begin taxing subscriptions for Netflix and other digital platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook.

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