Ethiopia to Start Taxing Social Media Messaging Apps

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Ethiopia’s sole telecom provider Ethio Telecom is finalizing its preparation to tax social media apps that are used for voice calls and messages. The list of applications to be taxed by the telecom company includes WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and Facebook Messenger.

According to Wazema Radio, the telecom company has been in the process of procuring the necessary tool to tax the platforms for the past two years. Due to foreign currency shortage, the procurement was delayed and now the telecom company has finally purchased at a cost of 10 million USD.

The telecom main reason for deploying a messaging app tax system is mainly due to a loss of revenue from calls and messages because of cheap alternatives. The telecom has been complaining for a while about losing billions of birr due to messaging apps.

Policy Charging Rule Function(PCRF) and Traffic Detection Function (TDF), is the term used for software that equips a company to block or overcharge a certain platform. The software that was purchased by Ethio Telecom was sold by a German-based company called BITE.

If Ethio Telecom proceeds with the plan it will make Ethiopia the second African country to tariff social media apps higher than actual internet data cost. The move raises more eyebrows at a time where the country is willing to privatize its telecom sector.