Uganda introduces new tax on social media users


Uganda’s government has introduced a new tax law that means people have to pay to use popular social networks such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

Despite widespread criticism from rights groups and social users, the government has pushed ahead with the new tax regulation, which officially came into force on Sunday. Now, millions of people in Uganda will have to pay to access popular social networks and messaging apps.

Uganda’s tax on social media

The government says the new tax regulation will generate much-needed revenue for the country as it pursues the target of becoming a middle-income country. However, critics argue the government – which has blocked access to popular social media platforms in the past – is using the legislation to stifle freedom of speech.

People in Uganda wishing to continue using platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Skype now need to pay the equivalent of 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.05) per day. This works out as roughly $1.5 per month and $19 per year in a country where may people live on less than $1 per day.

Roughly 17 million people in Uganda regularly use the internet – 41 per cent of the country’s population – with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp three of the most popular social media platforms in the East Africa nation. However, the government under Yoweri Museveni’s rule has taken an aggressive stance against online platforms where people are free to exchange ideas and criticise the state.

Featured image: Public domain.

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.