State Finance minister David Bahati

Ugandans seeking to access information will have to dig deep into their pockets in financial year 2018/19, following the announcement Thursday that government intends to charge Shs100 daily for social media users in the country.

“We are going for the sim card tax to access your social media that is why we have put a small fee per day. So you should use it optimally for all applications,” said State Minister for Finance David Bahati in Kampala as he briefed the media on new tax measures for fiscal year 2018/19.

The tax measure comes at the time when over 500,000 Ugandans are said to be using various social media every day, visiting sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube, LinkedIn and Whatsapp among others.

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The social media platforms have become spaces in which network effects are formed, bringing together producers and consumers of information and often blurring the lines in a constant feedback loop, a senior journalist says.

The total number of mobile phone subscriptions is 23,529,979, up from 23,529,290, according to the recent report of the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC). The phones include smart phones which people use to access the internet that carries the social media platforms.

Similarly, fixed telephone subscriptions grew 4.1 percent from 369,237 to 384,503 by the second quarter of 2017 compared to the 0.3 percent growth registered in the previous quarter. 41% of Uganda’s population or 16.8m people are classified as internet users.

These days businesses in Uganda like anywhere else have targeted social media users for with the aim to increase sales. The platforms have become a cheap marketing tool with companies like Jumia selling products online to clients.

The minister also said that there is a government proposal to increase tax on fuel by 100 shillings which will be for the construction of roads. He also said that a ban on vehicles 8 years and above will “increase the interest of companies manufacturing vehicles in the country”.

Government has proposed Shs30 trillion as national budget for fiscal year, 2018/19, the large funding of it expected from the tax collections.


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