Uganda’s Social Media and Mobile Money Tax

A rude awakening to Ugandans this past Sunday as they woke up to find that what their government had promised came into effect. If you hadn’t paid the new tax on social media use for platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook, you couldn’t access them. The tax which reportedly is to curb online gossip and to earn the government some shillings. To get around paying the daily 200 UGX(5.25 KSH or $0.05), tech-savvy users have to use VPNs.

The various telecoms in the country met with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to roll out the blocking of VPN services and clear out issues on the implementation of the new tax.

Ugandans have started to boycott mobile money services through which you are supposed to pay the social media tax. Adding salt to injury, mobile money transactions in Uganda now have an additional 1% tax, but Kenyans share a similar fate.

The tax has already started to impact negatively the ability of users to gain affordable access to the internet and thus restricting their rights to freedom of expression especially for low income demographic. This move is likely going to be challenged in a court of law.

Cellulant’s Journey

Ken Njoroge, co-founder and CEO of fintech company Cellulant; and Allard Luchsinger, Director of Private Equity at Dutch PE firm, Velocity Capital, spoke to African Tech Roundup’s Masuku Andile on their journey to securing Africa’s biggest fintech investment deal yet. [Listen to the audio here]

UNDP Entrepreneurship Portal

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has launched a pan-African entrepreneurship portal-platform called YAS!. It will be facilitated by Accenture and help entrepreneurs begin their journey by providing answers to the key concepts relevant to enterprise development. The platform will be implemented on two levels, first for entrepreneurs and start-ups that want to create a profile on the platform and second, for the private sector, donors, venture capitalist or incubators seeking start-ups already participating in an incubator or acceleration programme or those requiring financing. Young African entrepreneurs are welcome to register here.

Village Capital

Global venture capital firm, Village Capital, in partnership with the UK Department for International Development (DFID), is calling on all incubators, accelerators, seed funds and other ecosystem stakeholders to participate in its VilCap Communities Africa program. 15 applicants will be selected to take part in forums in Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town. Application deadline is July 6. [Read More]

UNICEF Innovation Fund

UNICEF is looking to invest $100K (equity-free) in for-profit, early stage drone startups. UNICEF will also provide access to its 6500 sq/m, 500 m above ground level drone corridor, located near Kasungu, Malawi; as well as access to the UNICEF Ventures team. To be selected, you’ll have to be registered in your country’s UNICEF program. Deadline is July 22 and you can apply from here. Eligible startups should have an existing prototype of the solution that works on open source technology or is willing to open-source their software, hardware or content licenses, with the potential to positively impact the lives of children.


A new report says there are a total of 82 agri-tech companies in Africa, across 16 countries. The leading markets are Nigeria and Kenya, who jointly account for 46.4 per cent of the total amount of startups. Ghana is next with 14.7 per cent. These top three markets make up 61.1 per cent of the overall total. [Full Report]

Kenya was the pioneer of agri-tech in Africa.  Back in 2010-2011, the continent’s first wave of agri-tech startups sprung up in the East African country, carving out a new niche for innovation.

Here are other regional tech stories you might have missed

East Africa

Ghana-based MEST is launching another incubator in Nairobi, Kenya later this year as part of its ongoing Africa expansion. The Kenyan incubator joins Lagos Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa and the incubators’ Accra, Ghana HQ. [Read More]

Early-stage social enterprise incubator Villgro Kenya will incubate and fund Uganda-based MamaOpe (biomedical jacket for detecting pneumonia) and ClinicPesa (micro-savings and loans for better healthcare access). The two start-ups have the potential to advance Universal Health Coverage in Africa through their innovative health products. Villgro Kenya will offer financial support, high-touch mentorship through a structured programme, access to networks of healthcare and product development experts, and connections to investors and strategic partners. [Read More]

Gravity, a blockchain-based identity management startup based in Kenya and Paris for low-income populations in developing countries, has launched. The startup targets KYC requirements and users only need a mobile phone(any). The objective of the company is to be at the centre of an ecosystem, playing the role a Facebook connect for the offline world and enabling users to share the Gravity KYC with multiple private or public stakeholders they interact with to access services. [Read More]

Rwanda has banned elementary and high school students from using mobile phones on school premises. Last year, it banned medics from using mobile phones during work hours. Both teachers and parents have welcomed the ban. The issue of using mobile phones in schools has been hot and rather controversial. According to Isaac Munyakazi, the State Minister for education the decision was taken to ensure that children concentrate on studies without distractions. He said that punitive measures would be taken, that include confiscation of the phone and a warning which will be followed by dismissal in case the culprit is caught again. [Read More]

Swiss-based Seedstars World, in partnership with the Omidyar Network, is launching a hub in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on July 10. This will be Seedstars’ fifth hub in Africa and its ninth in total (two in Geneva, Switzerland; one in Lagos, Nigeria; another one in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; one in Cape Town, South Africa; two in Colombia and one in Cairo, Egypt). This is in a bid to fulfil Seedstars 2018 mission to launch startup-centred hubs and launch tailor-made “startup packages”, including benefits that fit their needs at the different stages. [Read More]

Selcom, a Tanzanian mobile money and payments company, has partnered with Mastercard to link mobile wallets to Mastercard cards. Users will be able to withdraw, pay in-store using Mastercard’s QR payment solution or pay online. Selcom also operates Tanzania’s largest independent network of PoS terminals. [Read More]

South Africa

A new on-demand transport startup, Emergency Taxi, has launched in South Africa. The startup offers regular metered taxis on demand via an app or call centre and already has 150 taxis in the Gauteng province. The SA Meter Taxi Council will get a share of profits and Emergency Taxi is offering taxi drivers a 3% annual retainer and rent-to-buy options after six months with the service. Prince Pirikisi, who is behind Emergency Taxi, said he started the service due to the fights between metered taxis, and Uber and Taxify. [Read More]

Zimbabwean crypto exchange, Golix, says it has launched in 7 more countries: Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania & Uganda

The Zambian Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has fined MTN Zambia, Airtel Zambia and Zamtel for failing to meet the quality of service guidelines as outlined in the quality of service guidelines for two consecutive quarters, the fourth quarter of 2017 and first quarter of 2018 respectively. ZICTA, in an effort to avoid tilting the competition landscape, fined all the three mobile networks AIRTEL, MTN and ZAMTEL a total K12.6 million for failing to meet some of the set parameters on quality of service which include call set up success rate, mean opinion’s call, successful SMS rate, SMS delivery time and HTTP success logins, HTTP success rate as well as HTTP down rate 2G and 3G. ZICTA fined MTN Zambia K3.6 million ($359K), Airtel Zambia K4.2 million ($418K) and Zamtel K4.8 million ($478K) [Read More]

Nkosana Makate, “inventor” of the once popular “Please Call Me” service, has agreed (out of court) to a gag order initiated by Vodacom as their court case lugs on. The agreement prohibiting the disclosure of any information regarding their settlement negotiations. Makati dragged Vodacom, his former employers, to court alleging that the company ran with his “invention” without paying him for it. The case has been ongoing for about 10 years now. [Read More]

Zimbabwean agri-tech startup, SMART Connect, has won the Zimbabwe leg of the ongoing DEMO Africa Tour. It will now compete against the winners from South Africa and Botswana for a place at the main event in Casablanca later this year. [Read More]

South African female-focused social enterprise, GirlCode, will hold the fifth edition of its annual hackathon, GirlCodeHack, from 3rd – 5th August in South Africa. The hackathon will be the largest all-female hackathon in South Africa, with over 400 participants expected. Taking place in Women’s Month, the primary goal of GirlCodeHack event is to raise awareness of female technical talent and foster a competitive, yet cooperative and congenial culture for talented female techies. [Read More]

West Africa

GreenHouse Capital is launching the first female-focused tech accelerator program in Nigeria. Applications open for the opportunity to receive a minimum 100K USD investment for your tech start-up. You can apply here.

Asoko Insight did a very insightful industry map of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Nigeria. The major takeaway is that telcos own 99% of the mobile internet market, other ISPs have to battle it out for the remaining 1%). Read the full document here. [PDF]

This week in numbers come from Cameron’s mobile money transactions: 100 billion CFA (~ $177 million) weekly transactions, 600K daily users, ~ 1 million daily transactions and 3.5 million customers.

North Africa

Egypt is thinking about taxing social media ads by big corporations such as Facebook and Google in the country. Egypt’s parliament is evaluating an option to tax people and organizations that advertise on platforms like Facebook and Google. This, according to some of Egypt’s parliamentarians, will help the country “protect the Egyptian advertising market.” [Read More]


You’re now all caught up, Check out previous editions here.