Uganda’s social media tax is leaving people disconnected — and failing to meet revenue targets
By James Propa
The number of people using the internet in Uganda has dropped by more than 12 percentage points since July 2018, when the country’s so-called “social media tax” was put into force.
Prior to the tax’s implementation, 47.4 percent of people in Uganda were using the internet. Three months after the tax was put in place, that number had fallen to 35 percent.
The tax resulted from an Excise Duty Bill passed in parliament in May 2018, which allows Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to tax users’ access to IP-based over-the-top (OTT) communication services, including all major social media services. In practice, the rule has forced people to pay 200UGX or roughly USD $0.054 per day for social media access.
President Yoweri Museveni and several government officials said this was an opportunity to curb online rumor-mongering and generate more revenue for the East African nation.
Photo courtesy of Simon Berry.