Almost two weeks ago, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni said he was planning to introduce taxes on social media platforms, apparently since people use them for gossip.
Well according to the Daily Monitor, Uganda’s State Minister for Planning, David Bahati addressed journalists today where he said the proposed daily taxation of UGX 100 (Kshs 3) will be charged daily on each SIM card that is used for social media.
Some of these social platforms that President Museveni said people use for gossip include the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Viber and Skype.
That is not all, apparently also the government wants to introduce a 1% tax on every mobile transaction made (withdrawal and deposits). These measures are aimed at making sure they grow the domestic budget financing.
Uganda’s Internet penetration is rather low. According to 2017 data, it has over 13 million Internet users out of a population of over 41 million, which translates to a penetration figure of 31%. Taxing each and every Internet user Kshs 3 per day could prove to be quite lucrative for the government of Uganda, but you can bet this news will not be taken with open arms with the public.
Apparently these new proposals were quoted to be ‘diversionary, deceptive, injurious to individual freedoms and burdensome’ by human rights defenders and opposition leaders. If these tax proposals are approved by Parliament, the Minister was quoted as saying that they will begin effectively on July 1st.
In the region, we have seen governments starting to take a note of the social media and the industry in general. In Tanzania, they recently passed a bunch of laws that require bloggers to have licences and even penalize you for not having a password.