In 2018, Tanzania introduced a USD 900 per year tax on bloggers. A blog is an informal discussion or informational website published on the internet. Under the ‘Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2018’, Tanzanians operating a blog site, video website, or online radio station must be registered and pay annual licencing fees.
Under the Act, the government has complete discretion to revoke a permit if they are unhappy with a site’s content. If the government determines the material is obscene or will offend some people, or lead to social breakdown, it can take the website down. The government believes the tax will reduce the ‘moral decadence caused by social media and the internet in Tanzania. Breaches of the Act are subject to a fine of USD 2,500 or 12 months imprisonment.
As the government hoped, the blogging tax has dramatically reduced the number of bloggers in the country. With an average GDP income of only USD 1,051 per year, few citizens can afford to pay the annual USD 900 blogging fee. The blogging tax seems less about raising revenue for the government and more about stifling freedom of speech and dissent against the government. Although the blogging tax is deeply unpopular with the citizens, from the government’s point of view, it’s a great success.