Uganda places tax on social media usage

Uganda’s parliamentarians have approved the proposed law to tax social media users and mobile money.

The new law serves Ugandans who use the internet messaging services including WhatsApp to be charged a daily tax. Mobile money transactions will also be taxed, with a 1% levy on the total value of each transaction.

According to Uganda’s government, the social media tax is expected to be implemented in July 2018, having been announced in April 2018.

What this means for social users is that in addition to purchasing a mobile phone and Internet access data bundles, users will now be subjected to a daily tax of Shs 200 (approximately $ 0.05c). Users of platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram and Skype among many others will be affected.

According to BBC News, President Yoweri Museveni was quoted in Ugandan media last month as saying social media platforms are used “mainly for gossip.”

However, opposition leader Winnie Kiiza, argued against the new taxes during the debate before the law was approved.

social media apps

“Let us increase taxes for example on tobacco consumption because after all it is written that taking in tobacco kills your life. Let us put more taxes on the consumption of alcohol. Can we put more taxes on the sachet waragi such that we can make our youth to be more productive.”

“We’re in a country where more than 70 per cent of our youth are unemployed. We’re in the country where the boda boda (motorcycle taxis) industry is the one that is employing more of our young people. By taxing the boda bodas, we’re telling these young men that go back on the streets without jobs and then we begin crying of butayimbwa wielding people who are killing Ugandans. What message are we sending to these young people?” she added.

Experts and at least one major internet service provider have raised doubts about how a daily levy would work. The government is struggling to ensure all mobile phone SIM cards are properly registered.

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Gbenga Ajao
Gbenga Ajao is a journalist. He has garnered experience in print, electronic and new media. He is passionate about mobile and web technology.

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