In a bid to shore up its revenue the Ugandan government is making plans to impose a tax of 100 shillings ($0.03) per day for users of social media in the country.
The new tax regime would apply to users of services including Facebook video calls and “value-added services” such as Skype, WhatsApp calls. This is expected to generate an estimated 400 billion to 1.4 trillion shillings per year.
There have been moves by some African countries to regulate these over-the-top (OTT) platforms and other platforms that operate over data networks, following complaints by local mobile carriers that such apps are freeloading on their networks.
In South-Africa, the over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Skype, Google Hangout, and WeChat are under scrutiny as well. Vodacom and MTN, two of South Africa’s largest mobile companies, claim the success of these platforms is built on their hard work and investment in infrastructure in the country, and they should be regulated as a result.
In Nigeria, network providers have lamented the dwindling revenue due to the operations of OTT platforms and have urged the Nigerian Communications Commission to regulate their activities. But in response to their demand, NCC has said it can’t regulate the Over Top Technology (OTT]
Figures recently released by NCC shows internet users increased marginally to 98.3 million in December last year. Also, an estimated 100 million people in the country use the internet
The network operators argued that apart from interference that would be created in the telecoms space, such free service provision would also eat deep into their revenue generation since they invested so much in telecoms infrastructure in the country and are still investing in the maintenance of such infrastructure and the staff that operates them.
The OTT platforms provide users the option to text, make calls or video conference for free over a data connection supplied by network providers on their core revenue sources of calls and SMS.