Social Media Assault In East Africa Continues


The parliament in Uganda yesterday passed a law to impose new taxes on social media and mobile money use.

The Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill has been criticised for amounting to a restriction on freedom of expression, with a daily 200 shilling charge introduced for accessing social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Government has defended the introduction of a 1% tax on mobile money transactions by stating that it intends to use the revenues to fund the provision of critical services such as free education, healthcare and roads. However, opposition figures have charged that the government would do better to focus on tackling corruption in order to free up revenues, rather than imposing additional taxes on the poor.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act in Kenya and the Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations in Tanzania have also recently come under fire for the restrictions and penalties imposed on related activities. 

While in Kenya bloggers and journalists have successfully challenged the ban on “false” information included within the new regulations, in Tanzania the government this week won a case in which critics had challenged new requirements for bloggers and activists to pay licence fees of up to $900 and disclose their financial backers.