Uganda To Tax Social Media Users, Mobile Money Transactions

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
social media users
Ugandan social media users will be taxed. Photo – TheNerveAfrica

Social media users in Uganda will be taxed for the use of their favorite online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as the government attempts to boost the domestic budget.

The government in Uganda has proposed  a daily tax of around $0.027 on all social media users in the country, according to BusinessDailyAfrica.

The tax will be levied via the sim cards that are inserted in mobile devices, from which most Ugandans access the internet and sites such as Facebook.

Messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Skype are considered social media platforms in this regard, and use of those applications would therefore also result in the tax needing to be paid.

Uganda has a total population of 41 million people, with 23.6 million mobile phone subscribers and 17 million using mobile devices to connect to the internet, according to Reuters. Facebook users alone in the country amount to around 2.2 million, reports Internetworldstats.

Social media users discouraged from ‘gossiping’

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni recently explained that government would introduce taxes to discourage the use of social media, as he said that people used such platforms for lugambo, which is a Gwere word meaning gossip or the spreading of rumours, DailyNations reported.

This week the state minister for planning, David Bahati, made the proposal official while addressing a gathering of journalists at the Uganda Media Center in parliament. He said that the proposed taxes would take effect on Jul. 1 if approved by parliament.

The public’s response to the proposal has been negative, with many ironically taking to social media to voice their discontent, calling the tax unfair, burdensome and against freedom of the internet.

In addition to the proposed social media tax, the Ugandan government has introduced a one percent tax on mobile money transactions, with withdrawals and deposits affected, according to TheEastAfrican.

Both the social media and mobile money taxes are designed to boost domestic budget financing in the cash-strapped East African nation.