Uganda Social media tax a misleading development venture
People who have had the chance to read 'Why Nations Fail' by Daron Acemonglu and James Robinson will appreciate that the SocialMediaTaxUg plainly describes the position of Uganda as far as development is concerned with regard to theories in the book and why we should be worried as a Nation.
The main subject in the book is the connection between institutions, leaders and the decisions they make and how that impacts their countries in the end. In the first few chapters, a comparison is made between the Latin American countries and the United states from the time of foreign occupation and the sort of leadership that was employed in each country, how this laid a foundation that explains the position of each of these nations today.
Whereas, in the former systems were put in place to benefit a few who were either in power or close to those in it using brut force on the masses to achieve this end, the leaders in latter opted a more inclusive government but also one that was to serve the national interest. Hence people worked for future generations, for the good of their nations and stability was achieved, the economy boomed and with this came taxes that were used to fix the missing links. In the latter, local leaders were beaten to death, or burnt at stake for failing to meet the targets of gold collection (from the masses) set for them by the foreign invaders, leading to a system that was hated, served a few and was very unstable.
The other point relates to innovations and government reaction to them. Most of the governments of the olden days, very conservative in nature, opposed anything that they deemed would loosen their grip on power. So innovations that the world can't live without today (or innovations that led to such things the world can't live without today) received different reactions from different governments.
Whereas liberal countries like the USA was open to innovations and richly rewarded anyone that came up with one through patent and even medals, this wasn't the case in countries like Spain where the monarchy saw its survivals as directly linked to a continuation of the status quo and vehemently opposed such innovations. Countries in the second category lag behind today.
Back to Uganda. Social media has today become more than an ordinary platform of people to 'connect with other people', some businesses are done almost exclusively on social media today, some governments ( institutions of government) and Non Government organisations have have mustered the art of social media communication and achieved success in communicating to people miles apart by the click of a button........for any disease outbreak for instance, the ministry of health will come up with a social media communique on avoidance, and prevention to circulate on social media, Mobilisation for some very good social causes like the 'Yoyota Namugongo' will credit social media for the they success registered, and of course, like with everything else, there that has a good side, there is the bad side of social media.
So, in taxing social media (and effectively driving some people of the platform or reducing their time on it) at this point when the penetration and use of it by Ugandans is still low, the government ought to have considered the businesses likely to be injured, and the fact that a key tool of mobilization and communication is being suffocated. There is a possibility that the government of Uganda could have received more taxes directly and indirectly from the use of social media in a few years with more people on board than it will ever do with the direct taxation (which majority of people are opting to avoid), ANOTHER CRITICAL JUNCTURE MISSED.