Information and Communications Technology Association of Malawi (Ictam) has protested agaisnt the introduction of a five percent copying levy on media storage devices, saying it will work against government’s efforts to bridge the digital divide.
In a statement, Ictam described the move as unrealistic, saying it will further frustrate penetration of ICT and counteract strides the country has achieved.
Reads the statement in part: “We need policies that promote the use and adoption of the ICT services.
“The introduction of the private copying level is not only taking this country steps back in terms of development and promotion of the usage of ICT, but also hindering the very efforts of making ICT universally accessible.”
A 2014 survey on access and usage of ICT services in Malawi conducted by Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) indicated that despite the increase in the usage of computers, the rate of growth still remains low, even below the level of Africa.
Malawi is not doing well at the regional level in terms of ICT penetration as indicated in the 2017 study by a regional ICT watchdog which rated the country among 10 eastern and southern Africa nations with the poorest ICT penetration at nine percent and mobile penetration of 36 percent in contrast to Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia at 95 percent, 83 percent and 73 percent, respectively, and a corresponding Internet penetration rate of 50 percent, 40 percent and 31 percent.
Ictam has since called on Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) not to implement the levy policy and engage stakeholders on better ways through which private copying levy should be understood.
In an earlier interview, Cosoma senior licensing officer Rosario Kamanga said the introduction of the levy is in line with a provision in the Copyright Act which obliges manufacturers and importers to pay a levy on media and equipment used for copying and reproduction of copyright protected material.