Uganda passes controversial social media tax law


File: Emma Sadleir from The Digital Law Company says there is no doubt that the South African Human Rights Commission will investigate an incident where a holidaymaker celebrated the fact that there were no black people on a beach on social media.

KAMPALA – Uganda has passed a law to tax social media users, expected to be implemented later this year.

READ: Uganda imposes tax on use of social media

Unsurprisingly, it has been slammed as an unfair tax on the poor and an attempt to stifle free speech.

Ugandans using platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook will soon have to fork out 70 South African cents a day.

Activists say it is another attempt by President Yoweri Museveni to stifle freedom of expression and quash dissent to his 32-year-rule.

More than 40 percent of Ugandans use the internet.

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The government blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp during the last general election in 2016.

It is a move used by other entrenched Africa leaders in response to grassroots opposition.

Robert Kyagulanyi, a member of parliament, commented, "The regime is so scared of this population which is so connected and so informed. Everything is being exposed every day on social media, all the decadence in the governance in all the institutions. All failures are being paraded on social media every day so, in a move to curtail the social media, they are taxing it and I believe much more is going to be done to restrict social media usage in Uganda."

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Data costs in Africa are already among some of the highest in the world, according to the digital advocacy group, World Wide Web Foundation.

Ugandans say the new tax will keep people, already struggling to make ends meet, off the internet.

Of Uganda&39;s 41-million people, 24-million are mobile phone subscribers, and 17 million use the internet.