Uganda’s government has kept its promise: Many Ugandans woke up today (July 1) to find that if they hadn’t paid the new tax on social-media use, services like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Skype were inaccessible.
Uganda’s government has long had an issue with social media as it tries to keep tabs on its young population. Back in February 2016, the country’s telecoms regulator blocked the internet during elections, ostensibly for security purposes. This year, the regulator proposed a tax on social-media use, designed to curb gossip online and raise billions of shillings in government revenue. That levy came after president Yoweri Museveni complained that idle talk on social media was costing the country much-needed time and income.
With this Tax on social media users in Uganda shows how much the Government of Uganda cares for its citizens in this technological age, its the sweet art of taking and taking and taking and taking……… This is not fair, people already pay a lot for mobile data. #GrowUp
— A Pass Bagonza (@IamApass) June 30, 2018
Many tech-savvy Ugandans have already taken to virtual private networks to get around having to pay an extra 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.05) per day. The new fee is expected to impact usage of social media and mobile money, which now has an additional 1% tax.
Those saying 200/- is little money or that VPNs cost more forget that people are not protesting the amount being paid, but the principle behind taxing every little thing from an already suffering economy so a corrupt government can get even more money to steal.#SocialMediaTax
— Solomon King (@solomonking) July 1, 2018
Major telecoms providers MTN, Airtel, and Africell, issued a joint statement informing customers of how to pay the new tax with mobile money services of MTN and Airtel.
Uganda blocks Social media & other OTT SERVICES.
Many have taken it to Private Secure Networks, VPN & VPS to avoid the daily ugx 200.
Daily's ago public servants, ministers privileges were increased by over 73%. Cc. @Info_Activism #IntelPostUpdates #SocialMediaTax pic.twitter.com/lsnSz3ZX4E
— IntelPost (@intelpostug) July 1, 2018
Internet penetration stands at just 22% in Uganda, according to the World Bank. Social networks constitute the internet for those already online, with Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter being the most popular apps.
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