So Uganda will impose a 200 shilling [R0.67] daily levy on people who use social media and messaging platforms. The amount is to around $19 (R240) per year in a country where gross domestic product per capita was around $615 (R7,750) in 2016. “We’re looking for money to maintain the security of the country and extend electricity so that you people can enjoy more of social media, more often, more frequently,” stated the government.
The tax will take effect next financial year which starts in July. It would be levied daily by mobile phone operators on each SIM card used to access any of the targeted social media platforms. About 40 per cent of Uganda’s 40 million people use the internet, according to data from the regulating body Uganda Communications Commission. Facebook and WhatsApp are widely used in Uganda and many other African countries. In the last presidential election in 2016, authorities blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp saying the platforms would be used by the opposition to mobilise protests. The actual measure was consistently criticised. “It’s intended to curtail the ever increasing central role of social media in political organising,” a Kampala-based lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo. who also heads a local rights organisation. said.