The government of Uganda has imposed a tax on using OTT messaging apps, including Skype, Viber and WhatsApp.
Users of any communications apps not provided by their mobile operator will have to pay a tax of UGX200 ($0.05) per day.
Additionally, the government has increased the levy on mobile money transactions by adding a 1% charge for both the sender and recipient. The changes have been introduced following the approval of the Excise Duty (amendment) bill 2018, which proposes several new taxes for Ugandan citizens in order to bring in revenue and improve the distribution of taxation.
Civil rights groups have hit out at the new taxes, with Reuters quoting one critic as saying that the decision was a politically motivated push to prevent “gossip” about the country’s authorities. The mobile money charge has also been criticised as it is likely to affect lower-income citizens disproportionately.
However, Uganda’s Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development defended the levy, saying that it was “unfair and inequitable” that customers using services provided by their operators paid tax, while those using OTT services did not.