Implications of Uganda’s New Social Media Tax
East African Journal of Peace & Human Rights Vol. 24 #2 (2018)
37 Pages Posted: 30 May 2019
Date Written: 2018
In May 2018, the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2018 which introduced a tax on the use of social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Viber was passed by the Parliament of Uganda. Three reasons have been given for the tax. Its originator, the President of the Republic of Uganda, claimed that Ugandans were using social media for what he termed as “lugambo” (gossip) and therefore needed to be taxed to limit this. The Minister of ICT and National Guidance (ICT) claimed that the tax was meant to encourage the development and use of local social media platforms. Finally, it was claimed that the tax was meant to raise revenue. This article examines these rationales for the tax to determine their accuracy. The article further examines the likely impact of the tax on the economy, the digital divide, vulnerable groups like women and people with disabilities and freedom of expression in the country.
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