Uganda proposes fee for social media users

Social media companies are “giving a turbo-charged communications channel to criminals, to smugglers, to traffickers, to exploiters". Image courtesy: vTechno News


A proposal by the Ugandan government to levy tax on social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Viber is still on course.

While addressing journalists at Uganda media centre on Thursday, the state minister for planning, David Bahati said a daily tax of Uganda Sh100 will be charged on each SIM Card that uses internet for social media.

According to the government, this move will raise revenue for the cash strapped country and ‘keep the gossip mill in check’. Uganda blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp during the last general election in 2016, a move used by other entrenched rulers in Africa in response to grassroots movements against them.

Internet users and human rights activists are obviously up in arms with this proposal.  They say the plan would limit freedom of expression, a similar concern voiced by those wary of the economic effects of taxing users.

The government has also introduced a 1 per cent tax to be charged on each and every mobile money transaction made, that is, withdrawals and deposits. Equally so, a Shs100tax on each litre of fuel for road maintenance, and income tax on 30 per cent of every Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (Sacco’s) net profit.

If debated and approved by Parliament the tax proposals will begin effectively July 1.


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