Uganda Govt To Tax Social Media Users


As of July the Ugandan government is planning to tax social media users in the country. According to Reuters Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija has revealed that the charge will apply to users of platforms including WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook at a rate of 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.027) a day.


The government is justifying the move as a revenue raising exercise for investment in security in electricity. Human rights activities however, argue that this is another measure intended to restrict free speech and suppress opposition.


The cost of data is among the biggest restrictions for greater internet use in the region.  Around 40 per cent of Ugandans are thought to use the internet, with around 2.2 million Facebook users (2016 figures). According to the Uganda bureau of Statistics the average household monthly expenditure stood at 351,600 Ugandan shillings in 2016/17.


The move comes as a challenge to the removal of presidential age limits passed in parliament last year is being heard in the courts. President Museveni, in office since 1982, is 73 years old. The scrapping of the 75 year limit for the post has therefore been seen by many as an indication he intends to run for office again in 2021. During the 2016 general elections access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp were blocked.