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Will Zambia’s Plans to Tax Online Calls Stifle the Country’s Digital Innovation?

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Zambia Tax Online Calls

In the past decade, communication has been greatly eased through online platforms such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Telegram, among others. With improved Internet connectivity, it has become increasingly common to conduct free international and local calls over these platforms than over normal network service providers. However, the government of Zambia has announced plans to tax online calls in an attempt “to protect its local telecoms companies.”

Zambia’s Plan to Tax Online Calls

online calls

In the past few months, two African governments have introduced measures to increase revenue collection locally based on the use of online platforms among their citizens.

Uganda recently introduced a tax on social media, and Zambia has proposed a tax on online call platforms.

In Zambia, a tax of $0.30 will be collected daily through mobile operators and ISPs. It is targeting the 80 percent of users on WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and other platforms with the argument to protect the jobs of workers of Zamtel, MTN, and Airtel.

While online messaging and calling apps are free to use, their service providers are the main beneficiaries of revenue from the great economies of scale of their users. Governments cannot often tax the multinational organisations at the local level.

However, a tax on online calls begs the question: “Won’t these taxes hinder users from accessing the liberties and the conveniences that these platforms have to offer?”

Furthermore, will the tax be a sustainable solution to secure the future of the country’s telcos or will the telcos be forced to innovate in order to remain relevant to their clients?

What Impact Would Such a Tax Have on Innovation in Zambia?

While Zambia’s new proposed tax may help local telecom companies, its long-term impact on the quality of life of the citizens must be put into consideration. Will it cost, even more, to make simple calls because of this tax? Will people be quick to find viable, private and secure alternatives to make calls?

Furthermore, will this not set the stage for alternative methods of tax avoidance and indirect exploitation that could ultimately stifle innovation?

Just because a tax can be introduced does not mean that it should be. Innovation should be handled with regard to the end user’s satisfaction. Telcos need to refine their models in order to serve their clients in such a way as to attract their loyalty and their profits.

Innovation primarily makes life easier, more convenient and cost-effective for people. Therefore, regulations and policies should support, rather than stifle this from happening. Lower costs for calling and messaging through online platforms have made it easier to communicate and to do business. The government should support that for the improved quality of life of its citizens, rather than put it at risk through taxation.

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Black-Owned Blockchain VC Firm SADA Launches in South Africa

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South African Digital Assets Partnership

Blockchain VC firm South African Digital Assets Partnership (SADA) launched in South Africa. The venture capital company is black-owned and based in Sandton.

Supporting Blockchain Projects

South African Digital Assets Partnership aims to promote the adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies by supporting projects that solve African challenges. SADA concentrates on tokens, funds, businesses, and projects related to the blockchain and digital assets.

“SADA is incorporated to further build and invest in blockchain projects that seek to address Africa’s needs for a far more efficient and transparent financial system while presenting an amazing opportunity for the people of our country and continent to be part of what we call the “6th Digital Revolution. We call it the “6th Digital Revolution” because we believe what cryptocurrencies and particularly bitcoin have done is position the world to transact and invest in a new digital world,” Zamo Tshabalala, the CEO of SADA, said in a press release.

SADA’s board is comprised of blockchain entrepreneurs such as founder and CEO of Cryptovecs John Lombela, co-founder of GA Capital Mendy Nkosi, and founder of Blueline Accounting Group Hein Schmidt.

SADA’s Funds

South African Reserve BankPresently, SADA is running and managing five funds that strategically serve the diverse needs of investors not only in South Africa but on the entire continent.

“SADA focuses 100 percent on the rapidly evolving digital asset sector, maximising our investors’ capital growth through a proprietary and actively managed investment strategy while placing a key focus on amazing projects and teams changing and improving the African economy through blockchain,” Tshabalala asserted.

Africhain Fund is the entry-level flagship crypto 30 index fund for retail investors. The A-Team Capital Fund is the high entry-level flagship fund for financial advisors, high net worth individuals, investment companies, and fund managers.

SADA has invested in the Digital Rand through its Blockchain Fund. The Digital Rand is the first digital asset to be pegged 1:1 to the South African Rand.

Furthermore, SADA is guided by the relevant regulations in South Africa. According to an official statement, the company explained: “SADA has proactively aligned itself with regulation by being administered by an FSP registered entity, Olwevu Group, and is a member of many blockchain associations including South African Financial Blockchain Consortium (SAFBC) which boasts members such as MMI Holdings, Standard Bank, and other big financial players in South Africa. We understand the importance of regulation with the prevalence of scams that have swept through South Africa in the last four years.”

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First ETHGlobal Hackathon in Africa is Coming to Cape Town

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ETHGlobal

The first ETHGlobal Hackathon in Africa will be held on April 19 to 21, 2019 at The Lookout, V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa.

ETHCapeTown 2019

Organised by ETHGlobal and Linum Labs, the event dubbed ETHCapeTown will see more than 200 international developers, hackers, and blockchain enthusiasts gather to work together to create Ethereum-based decentralised applications (DApps).

ETHGlobalETHGlobal aims to build an ecosystem of Ethereum developers and entrepreneurs with support from the Ethereum Foundation. Linum Labs is a Swiss blockchain development company with an office in South Africa.

Kartik Talwar of ETHGlobal said: “Ethereum development is growing fast, and it is valuable for the developer community in Cape Town to get together, discuss ideas, and push the envelope on what they themselves can do. And this is one of the goals of the hackathon – to simply give developers a place and time to build what they want and to see where their ideas take them.”

ETHCapeTown will bring together people from different backgrounds with a wide range of skillsets where they can share ideas and develop original blockchain-based solutions.

“One of the most notable things we have noticed in the space is the incredible capacity at which developers utilize new tools during time-sensitive environments at hackathons to deliver decentralised solutions that can have real-world impact,” said Devon Krantz of Linum Labs.

Cape Town: Africa’s Growing Tech Hub

Linum LabsAccording to Linum Labs, the ETHGlobal Hackathon will highlight that Cape Town is setting the path for innovation on the continent.

“The ETHCapeTown hackathon is again proving how Cape Town is pioneering the way forward for innovation in Africa. The city’s local tech hub is alive, thriving, and hungry to grow and position itself as a leading destination for emerging technologies,” Krantz stated.

Cape Town has hosted blockchain events such as the Blockchain Africa Conference and Connecting the Blocks, and is home to several notable blockchain startups.

The ETHGlobal Hackathon will be graced by Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, who will be the first official judge of the ETHCapeTown 2019 Hackathon.

Hackathon attendees will be exposed to some of the leading minds in the global blockchain industry and have the opportunity to win prizes for the solutions they build. Registration for the ETHGlobal Hackathon is open now.

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Ghana’s Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Warns Public About Investing in Crypto

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In a recent statement, the SEC of Ghana has warned the populace against investing in cryptocurrency and crypto-related investment schemes. This warning comes amidst a growing concern of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) about how Ghanaians are diving head first into the cryptocurrency market.

SEC Warns About Crypto

The Director General of the SEC, Rev. Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, signed an official statement released by the Commission that cautions the general public about cryptocurrency trading and all crypto-related activities as these are not regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission reports News Ghana

“[Cryptocurrency investments] offered by unregistered and unlicensed entities on digital online trading platforms with promises of high returns on investment are not sanctioned nor registered by the SEC”, the statement read.

The Commission’s statement further read:

Ghana SEC“The SEC wishes to inform the general and investing public that none of these cryptocurrencies is recognised as currency or legal tender in Ghana. The platform on which they are traded are not also licensed nor regulated by the SEC. The SEC would like to make it clear that it does not currently regulate these types of products offerings and their accompanying online trading platforms or Exchanges. Members of the general public who are investing or intend to invest in such currencies or assets may be doing so at their own risk and can in no way be protected under the Securities law regime in Ghana.”

Currently, digital asset trading remains a regulatory and legal grey area in the West African nation. Whereas the SEC has stated that it is presently not in support of or regulating cryptocurrencies, it also has not stated that cryptocurrency trading is illegal.

The regulator only mentions that they are “unregistered, unlicensed, and unregulated under the Securities Law of Ghana“. Thus, this can be very much regarded as a “disclaimer” on the part of the regulatory body to the public to sensitise them that trading in cryptocurrencies in the country presently is only done at one’s own risk.

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