The latest country now to impose social media tax on its citizens is Benin. Oh! Africa my Africa!
According to QZ, last month, the government passed a directive that would impose levies on its citizens before being able access the Internet and social media apps, which is similar to what we have in Uganda.
This directive was first proposed in July and sought to charge 5 CFA per megabyte ($0.008) which users consume from services like Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp. There is also an additional 5% fee on top of this tax which is applied on calls and texts.
According to the Internet Sans Frontieres (ISF), an advocacy group, the new fees imposed by the Benin government will not only burden the poorest consumers but would be ‘disastrous’ for the nation’s digital economy. They even started a petition on change.org which has garnered nearly 7000 signatures.
The idea of governments passing laws to capitalize on social media has gained momentum this year. Uganda passed a law in July that gave the government power to charge its citizens a fee of around $20 a year to use social media apps. Tanzania doesn’t have that but rather charges online business owners fees for licences that expire after 3 years. Zambia also approved a tax on Internet calls just recently.
This is not a trend that has been quite prevalent in this continent of Africa and it seems governments are eager to catch on and tax its citizens to use social media. Benin’s move is also signalling a popular move to tax the populace to use social media apps and the future seems grim now.