As it stands, the Republic of Benin is the latest African country to implement taxes on the use of the Internet.
Towards the end of August, the Government of the West African country passed a legal order that internet users in the country will begin to pay levies on the usage of the Internet. This cuts across social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the likes.
Extensively, the Government of the Republic of Benin also included payment of 5% fees plus tax on texting of SMS and making calls. Reports reveal that proposition about the directive to implement 5 CFA francs fee per megabyte on the use of social media was first made in the month of July. Coincidentally, July was the month Uganda, another African country implemented the payment of taxes on Over-The-Top (OTT) services including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, Snapchat, etc.
The idea of implementing taxes didn’t go down well with the citizens of the nations as they took to social media to express their displease and push for the levy removal. In so doing, the hashtag #Taxepamesmo (“Don’t tax my megabytes”) has gone viral on the nation’s internet thanks to actions from citizens and advocates. In fact, a petition against the decree which was made on Change.org gathered over 6,500 signatures in barely two days.
Meanwhile, Internet Sans Frontières (ISF), the advocacy group spearheading the move for the cancellation of internet taxes sited two major challenges the country could face if the taxes still remain. According to Julie Owono, ISF’s executive director, the levies will make internet usage costlier to the poorest consumers, and also make the development of the nation’s emerging digital economy a herculean task.
Prior to Benin’s tax imposition, fellow West African nation, Zambia, in the month of August, had passed a mandate that internet calls will have taxes attached to them. Uganda isn’t left out of this growing list of African countries implementing taxes. As a matter of fact, Uganda’s levies not only cuts across OTT apps alone but also extends to mobile money.
The big fear is, other African countries might join this train, thus the likelihood of posing a huge threat to the continent’s economy, most importantly.
Featured Image: peoplemagazine.com.pk