AFRICA IS STILL TRYING TO SEE THE SUN YET A FEW MEN SOMEWHERE ARE TRYING TO BLOT OUT THE RAYS SHE SEES BY IMPOSING LEVIES AND TAX ON SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE.
Wait before I start this article, let me enter my Patience Ozokwor moment (takes off head gear and ties it around waist). Wonders shall never end in this continent; imagine waking up to use your favourite social media apps only to find out that YOU CAN’T VIEW YOUR OWN TIMELINE just because somebody somewhere has imposed some kind of levy on social media usage.
You think this is far-fetched right? It means in your country you have it good.
Recently in Benin republic, the government cancelled a decree known as "over-the-top" platforms, which imposed a tax on users of platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. The initial decree saw Local and international activists protest against the decree as they believed it was an outright attack on the freedom of expression. They delivered media content directly to users without using traditional telecommunications infrastructure such as terrestrial broadcast or satellite signals.
Also in countries like Uganda and Tanzania we saw similar developments. In July this year Uganda imposed a tax on social media platforms. Ugandans average monthly cash income for is a little over USD$100 (36,000 Naira) yet tax was imposed on them to use the medium. Tanzania passed a law on online content creators which forces bloggers to pay up to USD$900 (324,000 Naira) for a three year license. In Zambia, the government introduced a levy on internet calls for WhatsApp, Skype and Viber and it also plans to introduce a cybersecurity and cybercrimes law. Kenya passed the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill last year to police social media activity. In Nigeria, there was speculation that the minister of information was pushing for an imposition of restrictions on the usage of social media.
This trend is being spurred by the unprecedented effectiveness of social media in disseminating information, exploiting vulnerabilities and its history in starting socio-political movements. I agree that a lot of people especially in places of political power have some insecurities but if you are going to stop me from saying a hi or hello to some young lady I’ve been crushing on, then don’t use levies or tax, be more creative please.
However, if this trend is left unchecked, a few men somewhere will lock Africa away from the world and further stifle the slow progress we are beginning to experience.
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