Ugandans were hit by surprise today morning when they woke up to zero WhatsApp and Facebook notifications due to the social media tax that left most users off-line by midnight.
From now on, every Ugandan using Internet to access any social media platform blacklisted by government will have to pay Shs200 as tax through mobile money.
Almost all Internet Service Providers that is MTN, Airtel, Africel and other networks have taken on the social media tax. Text messages were sent to all users across the country informing them in advance to prepare for what most Ugandan’s are referring to as an abuse of their rights.
Uganda is estimated to have 2.6 million active Internet users with a large percentage of those spending most of their time on Facebook. But as of now, after the tax was implemented today. The numbers of active users must have dropped by a third.
Telecommunication companies have been making a killing out of Internet packages meant for social media users such as Swift for MTN and Social Pack for Airtel which granted access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. However, MTN has scrapped off its famous package in wake of the recent newly introduced tax leaving most of its users in bitter shape.
Mobile money has also been included in the taxing scheme with all ongoing transactions being charged 1% according to government.
The new social media tax affects social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Instagram, Viber, Telegram, We Chat and Skype to mention but a few.
In the Budget for the financial year 2018/2019, the government of Uganda announced that it would charge those using over the top services or sites that offer voice and messaging over the internet, Shs200 daily.
According to Sevo, most Ugandans using social media are lugambo makers and in order to bring balance into society, a tax is needed.
In order to pay the social media tax via mobile money one will have to use the following codes for Airtel and MTN respectively by dialing *185*2*5# for Airtel and *165*2*5# for MTN. The tax is Shs200 and can be paid daily, weekly (Shs1400), or monthly (Shs6000).
So far, a good number of Ugandan’s have taken on VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) as their solution to the evil tax which has enabled them to access the social media platforms without a hustle.
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre & CEO of Innovware startup project. He is passionate about tech, games and entertainment. He also enjoys writing about anime and many other topics.