12% tax on internet data: Reactionary policy interventions will only cripple us.

12% tax on internet data: Reactionary policy interventions will only cripple us.

Our education system has always had problems and we have continously advocated for a complete overhaul of the said system. While the folks in charge were still figuring out how to overhaul the system, boom COVID19 happened.

As we talk, Ugandans who had invested in education, running educational institutions are the most hit by this COVID 19 pandemic. The last time I was in Mbarara, I was shown a number of well structured schools in town whose owners were looking for buyers so they exit the business.

After the first wave of COVID19, with guidance from Government of Uganda, it was clear that we were finally accepting the reality that the future is digital. Those who were running small grocery shops realised that he future of trade is online (digital). Those of us in Consultancy and training finally realised that the future of our business is online.

As we push into the digital era, the banking sector is also trying to digitise everything so the push towards a cashless economy would be seen nearing. (Please note that as recently reported, paper money is currently one of the most effective ways by which COVID19 is spreading). I know a few banks that re almost 90% online. Even when we are still struggling with cyber integrity.

Now, with these realities, you would still appreciate that the cost of internet in Uganda is still way high, because there is no effective regulation of the private telecommunication service providers. The situation had been worsened by the introduction of OTT. This was nolonger a big problem because we found ways of putting up with it.

With the second wave of COVID19, and the lockdown that has followed. You would expect that all businesses, including schools, and other categories are definitely thinking of either shifting a bigger Chuck of their operations online, if not going 100% digital.

The digital infrastructure in Uganda was steadily growing and thank God a reasonable portion of the population is able to read and access news and other basic services online. Thanks to MDAs that are embracing e-governance enabling the citizens to access services online.

URA is one of those that have done a commendable job in digitising their services to the citizens, and the humble Citizen can go about their business in Kigarama and interact with the tax authority comfortably in the comfort of the hills in Kigezi, without having to travel miles and miles to have someone issues attended to.

Ironically, now the Government of Uganda has imposed a 12% tax on data and internet and the good Uganda Revenue Authority is supposed to administer this same tax. And my question is, does anyone in Government feel that we are killing our own efforts!?

This has reminded me long time ago when I was still young. My late mother used to rear pigs in Kigarama, and one reckless sow that didn’t care so much, used to deliver and if it did in the middle of the night and there was no one, this careless sow would eat her own offsprings (piglets). This always left my mother and us not happy with this mother pig because we were always looking forward to an expanded stock on the farm if these piglets were let to grow into big pigs, and this would have meant bigger money value on the humble farm.

I see the same with the folks in charge of this country. At the time when the whole world is migrating to the digital reality, we are busy imposing more taxes on the same enabler (internet). I don’t know whether we are being too smart, or we are actually not aware of the possible circumstances when all businesses, schools, hospitals, grocery shops are are actually either already going digital, or are thinking of going digital.

In the end, we shall have no one else to blame but ourselves because we are starting to joke too much.

My heart goes out to the young innovators here who probably are thinking of developing another web application to help solve a problem here and there but could now be rethinking whether that is the best idea now given the added cost worsening the cost of internet. Like we were always not happy with our mother pig eating her own piglets, am sure the citizens are not happy seeing the leadership doing things that may otherwise cripple the economy.

But hey, as a humble Citizen, I can only point out these things, and I can only hope that the folks in charge can listen and reconsider like we told them that OTT would not work but because they really wanted to try out their chances, they have only realised barely two years later. We hope, that we as a country will realise this reality and get back to the right track before it is too late.

As I conclude, I wish to encourage everyone to put on a mask, stay home, sanitize and keep a distance because COVID19 is still actively recruiting people into the other world. And I don’t want to talk about the maneuvers now surrounding the just approved COVIDEX (an additional and supplementary treatment to viral infections including COVID19).

Greetings from Kigarama.

Alexander Kyokwijuka, Humble Citizen, Kigarama – Ndorwa East

29 thoughts on “12% tax on internet data: Reactionary policy interventions will only cripple us.”

  1. Let’s wait after this, but my humble citizen, some people will have to be considered in all goes of taxation, hey it’s telible to some Ugandans, than Mr. Alex

  2. This is brilliant observation sir, only that those concerned will never look at it critically.
    However, we should never give up. In east Africa or even rest of Africa, Uganda is leading in high tax rates on internet, meaning, most business community will check out yet in this lockdown, internet was still the way to go.
    That is my humble opinion

    • All well heightened Bwana Alex. I don’t know why our leaders take Long to understand that, the Lower the Tax Charge, the cheaper the Cost and the more the users. Eventually, high taxes Collected.

    • Alexander Kyokwijuka July 3, 2021 at 8:08 am

      Absolutely, we shall not get tired of pointing out these wrongs because when we keep silent, they will keep doing thinking it is okay. So better we tell them so they know we know they are doing bad. Thank you ndugu

  3. Reuben Biryomumisho July 1, 2021 at 10:12 am

    So sweet Uganda. I am sure that no citizen without excluding me would like to pay all these taxes that are being imposed by the government. No wonder our representatives (MP’s) who are newly elected are really forced to do things in the way they don’t want but because they still inferior they have to accept. I there fore take this opportunity as a humble citizen from kigarama to call upon the government of Uganda to revise the imposed tax because we already have VAT (18%) and is paid on every manufactured commodity by every Ugandan even those who barely get what to roll behind their tongue. As Mr Kyokwijuka said,many young Ugandans are trying their efforts to being innovative but the government its self makes the innovations null.
    As i conclude, there is no any motivation done by government since it turns its back to the motivated citizens and rob them in form of various taxes (no work done as someone who tries to was a crab of sand to make it clean).

    Greetings from kigarama, kiyorwa cell kanyakutana village, base of the brewers and pineapple growers. Thanks.
    Biryomumisho Reuben Turyatemba omufumbira womuzira’nte ye’ngobe eyayezarize

    • Alexander Kyokwijuka July 3, 2021 at 8:10 am

      Thank you for this detailed response. Very true, our leaders should be looking at how to enable Ugandans to be better. But this is not the case. Hopefully, we shall get there sometime.

  4. Oh Uganda, may God uphold thee

  5. Catherine kamusiime July 1, 2021 at 10:32 am

    Let’s see how long we can go with this new tax.
    It was uncalled for, instead regulations on telecommunication companies to provide more cheaper internet was to be put in place

    • Alexander Kyokwijuka July 3, 2021 at 8:12 am

      I totally agree, more regulations on telecommunication companies to help Ugandans access cheaper internet was needed but too bad our leaders are driving in a different direction

  6. I like your observation Mr humble citizen !
    What challenges is the people imposing these taxes are the ones always seeking for tax exemption and at end it is us humble citizens that face these taxes
    In this era where all is going digital is when these unscrapurous legislators are hitting us down by imposing tax on data which is itself not available
    God’s intervention!!!!

  7. Thank you humble citizens, we urgently need a competent economic and financial think-tank to this Government. The more we sit back and just hope that in future we shall have sensible policies, the more likely we shall have worse policies imparted on us.
    I am sad about this tax because it is going to cripple those beautiful innovations we had come up with to solve the problems of our society. As we work towards building this think-tank, please download the Market Garden App to order for your groceries. We shall deliver diligently.

    • Alexander Kyokwijuka July 3, 2021 at 8:14 am

      I agree with you that we need a think tank. However, there are already many of the kinds, bit our government really may not take expert advice for as long as it is not benefitting them.

      As a country, we need to rise up and put a number of things to order

  8. Jeff Atkins Winston July 1, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Internet has become a factor of production world wide for any investor to make investment decision, so the government has to make sure there’s good internet connectivity for them to be able to function. If the connectivity is so fast, to me it’s worth the tax

    • Ben Twinomuhwezi July 1, 2021 at 1:20 pm

      Online business is the way to go,am now earning when am at home.forexample am in super cash and I earn daily am doing this on my phone

    • Alexander Kyokwijuka July 3, 2021 at 8:16 am

      Exactly, internet is the in thing now. Everything is almost going online so making it more costly is almost like shooting ourselves in the leg

  9. Salvino Mubangizi July 1, 2021 at 11:45 am

    We are in the age of technology and covid 19 having pushed us to e-learning and online research, I wonder if the legislators had this in mind. Otherwise, God, come to our assistance.

    • Alexander Kyokwijuka July 3, 2021 at 8:17 am

      Same questions in the minds of many of us. You wonder how these our leaders can get to making such decisions really

  10. Nyakato julianah July 1, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    It’s us the humble citizens that are being affected the most! Oh God save our mother land uganda.

    • Alexander Kyokwijuka July 3, 2021 at 8:18 am

      That is very true, but also, we the humble citizens have the power to change the course of things and we ought to be intentional as we make choices of the next leaders

  11. AINEMBABAZI ANTHONY July 2, 2021 at 7:59 am

    Good morning.
    This is a very wonderful article Shared. How I wish that each government official including the president can read this and save Ugandans. Well observed my brother.

  12. Atuhaire Grace July 2, 2021 at 9:56 am

    For sure, what is going on is not good,these kind of taxes are only pulling back our economy,i think we need better leardership,otherwise we are doomed,thank u so much mr.Kyokwijuka Alexander.

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