Uganda's tax on social media will widen the digital gender gap

13 July 2018

Digital Content

On July 1, Uganda implemented a new daily tax on the use of social media and messaging platforms, on the grounds that — in the words of President Museveni — social media is a “luxury good”.

This tax will unquestionably widen the digital divide for all Ugandans of lesser means. But the results may be worst for women, who already face high barriers in accessing and using the internet.

According to a scorecard by the World Wide Web Foundation, in Uganda, the cost of 1GB data comprises 22% of the average monthly income. Countries that have expensive internet such as Uganda and Mozambique have the lowest numbers of women online. Regionally, only one in nine women in Africa has access to the internet. Only about 37 percent of women surveyed in ten selected cities in the world, including Kampala, were found to be using the internet compared to 59 percent men.

Research conducted by the Women of Uganda Network and the Web Foundation indicates that as a result of feminised poverty, many Ugandan women who are dependent on subsistence agriculture cannot afford to buy a smartphone or data bundles. Those who can afford mobile devices and services often face barriers of language and low literacy. Read the full article on Global Voices Online here.