Social Media Tax
In 2018 the Uganda government introduced a ‘Social media tax’ to censor online speech. Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, stated that ‘the tax was necessary to counter the threat of gossiping on social media’. The tax requires the daily payment of 200 Ugandan shillings (five cents) each day a citizen accesses a social media platform. The charge covers access to 58 social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Signal, Youtube, and WhatsApp.
Although a tax of 5 cents per day doesn’t sound like much, it’s significant to the average Ugandan. Accessing social media sites for 365 days per year would cost $18.25, which is material as the average GPD per capita is only 604 dollars pa. The social media tax is automatically charged to Ugandan internet or mobile phone accounts. The mobile phone companies then forward the fee to the government.
Since the social media tax was introduced in 2018, Uganda’s internet usage has fallen by 30%. Also, Ugandans are boycotting the charge using VPNs to avoid the Ugandan social media restrictions. With VPNs, citizens can access social media through an IP address outside Uganda. The tax has only generated 17% of the budgeted revenue the government expected.