The smartphone and social media boom in the last decade has caught governments unaware all over the world. This has led to a situation where they come up with laws when such technology is the norm. Interesting enough, it has also borne a situation where we get to see weird laws, like this one from Cameroon.
Apparently, in Cameroon, there is a new tax law that requires telcos to pay $0.35 for every app downloaded from their networks. This is apparently done at the time of download of the application and will require the mobile operator to declare it monthly.
Here is the interesting bit. The government seems to be considering this as a ‘import tax’ of some sort since this will apply to ‘foreign apps.’
This has to be one of the weirdest laws that we have seen targeted at the relatively new world order brought by smartphones. Treating ‘foreign’ apps with a similar strategy as importing foreign goods is open to interpretation and it has its ramifications.
One of the obvious ramifications is that it will discourage the end user from downloading apps not made in the country and telcos will find a way to make sure you don’t download them to avoid being charged for it.
Cameroon is also known for its rampant Internet shutdowns, especially in 2017 and 2018. Those practices plus this new tax law for requiring telcos to pay for app downloads makes it pretty hard to be an Internet user in that country. We have seen other weird laws creep up in other countries regarding Internet use like in Uganda with their over the top social media tax and Tanzania with their licences.