Uganda’s major telecom operators, including the local division of South Africa’s MTN Group, said they will ask customers to pay a new government tax on social media accounts before they can access them.
Last month, Uganda’s parliament passed new laws that introduced a new tax on use of so called Over The Top (OTT) services: communications platforms offered over the traditional telecom networks.
They include popular social media platforms WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Yahoo Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, Skype and others.
List of some social media applications to be taxed as of Sunday in #Uganda. Grindr is included. Homosexuality is illegal but use of Grindr must be taxed.
No word on VPNs though. Can they be blocked too? pic.twitter.com/D6TCr2tLVF
— Catherine Byaruhanga (@cathkemi) June 29, 2018
The tax is supposed to come in with the 2018/19 (July-June) financial year and each user is supposed to pay a flat fee of 200 shillings ($0.0516) per day.
A joint statement from MTN, Bharti Airtel and Africell on Friday, said that from July 1 OTT services can be accessed on payment of the OTT tax by the customer.
— MTN Uganda (@mtnug) June 29, 2018
Payment will be via the three telecom firms’ mobile money platforms. Customers will then be granted access to the platforms if they already have data on their devices.