Anger in Uganda over plans for tax on social media

Uganda’s government plans to introduce a tax for using social media sites in the near future but as Francis Maguire reports that’s drawn criticism from human rights campaigners and businesses.

(Reuters) – It costs to talk online anywhere but in Uganda there’s another bill looming.

The country’s leader President Yoweri Museveni plans to slap a new tax on anyone using social media sites to raise revenue.

It’s not going down well in a country where more than 40 percent of the population uses the internet.

Data costs in Africa are also among some of the highest in the world.

Nigerian online shopping platform Jumia – which operates in Uganda – believes the tax might lose them customers.


“The challenge we are having here is that it is a form of double taxation because originally we know that on the airtime that we pay and the data that we use, we pay taxes on it and as companies of course we pay corporation tax.”

Around 17 million people use the internet in Uganda and 22 million are mobile phone subscribers.

The government says it will charge all phones using platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook 200 Ugandan shillings per day – close to 30 U.S. cents.

Critics say it’s an attempt by Museveni – who’s ruled Uganda for 32 years – to stifle freedom of expression.


“This tax is not a good tax, this tax is a tax that will limit access and therefore affect access to information, access to services, will impact on businesses that are being run by young entrepreneurs.”

The government blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp during the last general election in 2016.

And the new tax is due to become law in July…

Whether the Ugandan people ‘Like’ it…or not.

Associated Links

  • Geography of Africa
  • Activism
  • Civil society
  • Civil society campaign
  • Uganda
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