The first of July came with Ugandans anxious to know their fate in regards to the new 12% internet tax. The result of the Excise Duty Amendment Bill of 2021, a 12% duty on internet data bundles, has been the talk of the town literally making no sense of scrapping the infamous social media tax that was dubbed OTT.
And this was evident in MTN Uganda’s statement on the issue. Much as the heading and body of the telco’s communication was in regards to the repeal of the OTT tax, customers were quick to question whether the company would go ahead to charge them the extra 12% as instructed by the government. The answer: No!
The key statement picked from here is that MTN “believe that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern, connected life.”
For now, the statement implies that MTN Uganda will go the extra mile for its customers that seek to use its internet services during this COVID-19 lockdown. Emmy Olaki, the PR Director at TBWA Uganda says this is MTN’s position in general and will last longer than the lockdown.
Additionally, it breaks the silence and cancels any rumours that have been making rounds in social media circles and platforms purporting that it is the telecom companies that will benefit most from tax collections like these.
Africell Uganda also issued a similar statement assuring customers that their internet usage will be uninterrupted.
Rokespot users won’t pay internet tax, too
Among the very first telecom companies to make its stand clear on the tax issue was Roke Telecom. For the record, the company stood by its customers in regards to the OTT tax, ensuring that customers accessed their social media without any hindrances. However, for the 12% duty, the yay gong was sounded rather quickly.
The company indicated, in a tweet, that it would increase the prices of its Roke Classic, Roke Unlimited, and Roke MEGA services by 12% – following the government directive.
However, there is a ray of good news for Rokespot users as these will not have to pay the internet tax. In a follow-up tweet, the company stated that it will not be increasing the price of ROKE Express Wi-Fi/ Rokespot bundles.
Kampala Siti Cable
Kampala Siti Cable seems to take a different direction in regards to the new internet tax. In a letter dated 28th June, it said all its Simba Fiber data offerings and packages will be subjected to the tax, this simply means you should expect the rates for these bundles to increase.
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Still Silent: Airtel, Africell, and company
Having gone through a rough end of June, following a service shutdown that interrupted Airtel Money services and gifted customers with free calls and internet, Airtel Uganda is most likely still patching up the mess that it went through. The company has already apologized for the service disruption and gifted customers even more with free online Airtel Money transactions, data bundles, and voice calls.
However, given that it is the second largest telecom company in the country – after MTN Uganda, we believe that it is going to follow the yellow camp and as well announce its position. We are less likely to see anything much different from the direction that MTN has taken, unless Airtel has a much more appealing offer to present. There could be, for instance, a data bundle specifically designed for the lockdown – the way MTN came up with the Work From Home bundle, or something unique for the customer.
Smile Communications, Lycamobile, and others are yet to issue statements or communicate their positions on the matter. We shall update the article as soon as each gives a word.