Uganda to initiate social media tax

Uganda’s Parliament voted to implement a new social media tax last Wednesday, limiting access to apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

The new social media tax will take effect from July 1 at the start of the fiscal year. According to BBC, the taxes are an attempt by the government to help alleviate the country’s debt. Additionally, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in office since 1986, advocated for the tax saying that social media “encouraged gossip.”

The new tax will charge social media users 200 shillings (R0.66) a day, according to Reuters. If a citizen uses social media on a day to day basis, he or she will spend about R240 per year, which is about 3% of an average Ugandan’s income. According to Reuters, the average income of an individual in Uganda is about R7 735.

The new bill has gained a negative response because it limits freedom of expression. In an interview with The Daily Monitor, the executive director for Human Rights Initiative Livingstone Sewanyana said that the new tax, “will not only hurt those who criticise government, but even innocent people. That tax aims to exploit local people. It’s diversionary, deceptive and burdensome to the people.”

Members of Uganda’s Parliament are defending the new tax, stating that it will not be burdensome to social media users. In an interview with CNN, Parliamentary spokesperson Chris Obore said, “ It is just a redistributive tax as the government is out to look for money from those who have to finance projects. The tax is very small. 200 shillings (50 cents) in Uganda to a dollar is very negligible. People in Uganda will not find it too expensive.”

The chairperson of the Budget Committee of Parliament Amos Lugolobi believes that the new tax will help bolster the economy. “The proposal to tax social media is a wise move if government is to sustain its revenue collection,” he said

According to Reuters, 40% of the country’s population — 16-million people — use the internet. Uganda is not the only country that is curbing access to content. Kenya recently signed a bill criminalising fake news, creating wariness over posting on social media and other online platforms. 

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Ubank placed under curatorship effective immediately

Reserve Bank says depositors will still have access to money and the bank will be operational during the process

Academic bullying in the sciences, an international perspective

It is important to support victims of bullying in academic life and help them become less dependent on potential bullies

South Africa’s 1-Minute Film Festival is reshaping the art of...

With the invention of the cell phone, anyone can make a movie. With the creation of the 1-Minute Film Festival, anyone's movie can be seen.

Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder hurts oppressed people

The journalist is among more than 50 reporters who have died at the hands of the Israeli regime and is remembered for bravely giving a voice to Palestinians

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…