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Archive for the tag “Uganda Telecom”

Internet Censorship: the UCC orders ISPs to block unauthorized Online Media Pages!

On the 19th April 2018, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has sent a letter ordering all Internet Service Providers (ISP), that they are ordered to block “unauthorized” Online Data. That meaning the internet service providers can because of this block pages and news-outlets that isn’t accepted by the Government of Uganda. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) are really having a warfare on the content online. As it has already added taxes on airtime, on mobile money and also now asking to block pages too.

We can surely know that UCC will really struggle to give authorization to media houses, web-pages and content that questions the government. The letter from the government says it very clearly:

The purpose of this letter therefore, is to DIRECT you to IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND the provision of caring services to any Online Data communication service provider (online/Electronic Media News provider) that is not listed above and/or has not presented an authorization certificate or other express clearance from the Uganda Communication Commission” (Letter from Fred Otunnu to ISP – ‘Letter to ISPs on Unauthorized Online Data Communications Service Providers’ 19.04.2018).

They have put a list of 14 companies, where only two are authorized, these are Nile Post News Uganda Limited and China Haijang Online Africa Ltd. There are dozens other which is not, these are in process, the ones known are Chimps Media Ltd and Trumpet Media Ltd. Therefore, many pages are not here. There are dozens of outlets not mentioned or asked for authorization from the UCC.

That the UCC are attacking the online content is clear. The UCC are using their power and force to silence certain media. This is to stop the content the government doesn’t see fit. They are now trying to get all companies, who are using the platforms online to register, to give license and operate. That the UCC are having sleepless nights is evident. As they have already made it hard to register sim-cards lately, also the same government who wants to monitor porn. So this is continuation of the trying to control all online content.

This should be a field day for the Attorneys working Pro-Bono for the Online Content makers as the censorship of the government comes into force. Just like it did, when the UCC had a black-out and VPN during the General Election of 2016. The NRM are really afraid of free-spirited people and the UCC are losing their marbles.

This is to show, that if your not registered at us, we will order the ISPs to not show your page, block your ideas, your content and everything you got through telecommunications. Only way to get through that is using VPN. So the citizens should use VPN to the content from pages and apps that the government has blocked. Peace.

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Telecommunications, Mobile Money and Cooking-Oil is hit by new taxes in Uganda!

You know there fiscal problems within the Government of Uganda (GoU). The GoU is on the rocks, as they are establishing more loans, more interests to pay and has leveraged their forex exchange, when they are levying today’s amount of new taxes. This is coming as reports of lacking hiring for the Civil Service, The Ministry of Public Service has suspended hiring of new positions in the districts and at the government institutions. This is happening, as the amount of cronies around the President is growing. Therefore, the wastage of funds are in and around the President, who can pledge funds as he wishes and give Presidential Handshakes to whoever he likes or needs. Therefore, today is sad day for transparency, as the state is eating itself, but not taking care of the needed services.

We know the state is poor, when the lacking banking-service and with the need of Mobile Money and Airtime on the Cellphones are getting hit by a tax. This is not social media tax, but is that the subscriber and user of the services, will get a withholding tax of 10% on transactions on Mobile Money and Airtime. This means, every time a Ugandan or someone buys airtime, in the price they are paying an added 10 % on the total price of the usage of minutes of airtime or making the transaction of funds between two funds more costly. This is really hitting the breadwinners and the ones who are servicing mobile money from the towns to villages.

Just to prove to how much the added cost on the Mobile Money is wished, as the withholding tax, they are adding direct also the excise tax on this from 10% to 15%, that means the added is 5% more on each transaction. If that isn’t excessive, just think about the two other taxes as well. Therefore, the state has added three taxes on using the phones. The citizens will have to plan more transactions, as they are more costly and will be less transactions of the amount, since the tax will shave off the amount of shillings sent to the fellow they wanted to give needed money through these services.

They are adding even more on every telecommunication services, not just the hit of withholding tax on it, but they are even adding an excise duty on it as well, meaning there are two pieces of taxes put on the same services, but at different times. Making the expenses of using the cellphones, hitting the roof and the value of the airtime dwindles, as you are paying more tax on each minute use. This excise duty is put on the level of 12% as well. So, expect the prices on airtime to rocket, as this hit both the agents to pay more tax on each, and also the cost of actually calling too. This is funds that the Telecommunication Companies will get back from the consumer, meaning citizens will pay more being in touch.

As they continue to give price hikes on necessities, they are putting a levy of 200shs on each liter of cooking oil, this meanings the price for making rollex or banana-pancakes will go up. Since before you buy the eggs and the flour to make your dish. You will pay more for each bottle, while the state gets simple taxation on this single item. It might seems pointless, but all fried foods will be more costly to make and a Samosa will cost more to make, therefore, expect a price hike on the hawkers foods in any stage where you waiting.

These are just some of the measures done by the state, there are several more, but this is really hitting the average citizen usage of phones and also cooking. This are just two items on a long lists of new taxes put on the people. Clearly, the state see the need for spikes of prices, growing inflation and lack of monetary control to come, as the chickens come to roost and the costs of debt services is hitting the fan.

The ones that has to pay for that, isn’t the elite, but all of the citizens who spends time outside their homes and buys into services. Which, means all of them. Peace.

President Museveni proposes a Social Media Tax: Good luck enforcing it!

I know that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni will not go door-to-door getting the cash-in, he will not issue the tax directly or levy the tax on each single individual who is on Social Media, but his letter to Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Matia Kasaija on the 12th March 2018 on “Re: Lack of Seriousness in Tax Collection”. That is the letter that propose to task some taxes on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. Where every single user of these are paying 100 shillings each per day. That is specialized task to gain huge revenues for the state. This is really to secure more funds to the Republic.

That President Museveni hasn’t thought this true, but will he get the names, does his CMI knows all who has WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, do they know how much these are used? Will these taxes be put when they are used and not levied the other days. The Uganda Revenue Authority, needs a mandate for this sort of tax, because this is also the privacy, since these are programs that people download on their free will. Not all have these. Is his plan to pay a 100 shillings for each days, so if you have three apps, will you pay 300 shillings per day?

This sort of ideas opens wormholes, is it that the Republic of Uganda, will through the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) and Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT). Should all be involved in finding he ways to levy these sort of things. Should they get all the companies who are servicing these apps to put a pay-wall that you have to register to pay each day you enter? Is that the sort of plan?

That the MICT, MoFPED, URA, NIRA and UCC are sending letters to Facebook, Google, Apple, WhatsApp, Twitter and so on. So they can figure out how to get this tax. Because it needs a technical feature, unless the CMI and Intelligence at SIU Kireka has it all. Unless, the state has gathered it all in secrecy or if the Telecom companies has this registered in their records.

You can wonder, if the MTN, Airtel or any of them has been considered here, as they are paying taxes on all the added value of the airtime, the trade of the phones. That the state is trying to do this, is to force a tax, that should be taken on directly every phone-call and SMS. That your paying 5 shillings for picking the phone and 10 shillings for receiving. Also 5 shillings for every SMS and 10 for MMS. That is the nonsense of this.

But I don’t think the President has considered the implications, neither the invading of the privacy, unless he wants to order the companies to put a pay-wall for using social media, that will have to subtracted by credit-card, mobile-money or out of the air-time. That is how it is supposed to be. But than, this is a grand-old man. Whose not that sophisticated or smart enough to understand, what he is implicating. Unless, someone is trespassing on his lawn or going to close to his cows.

This idea should be scrapped in the country, that has struggled to register the Sim-Cards and have them registered correctly. That all Social Media should be monitored and levied tax on is insane, but fits the Modus Operandi of Museveni.

Ready, Set and Bogus. Peace.

Uganda Communications Commission: Clarification on Sim Swaps/Sim Replacements (27.03.2018)

Uganda Communications Commission – Public Notice on Scratch Cards (24.03.2018)

MTN Uganda – “Announcement: New Guidelines on Selling MTN Sim Cards” (08.03.2018)

Uganda Communications Commission – Public Notice: “Warning Against Irresponsible Use of Social and Electronic Communication Platforms” (14.09.2017)

The Importance of Mobile Money in Uganda

As the Telecommunication companies like MTN are praised the by the government, the National Resistance Movement have clearly let the economy become addicted and need of the services provided by the different Telecom’s and how the operate as village banks. The further proof of this comes when looking into a study and of the value of Mobile Money. This is done by all of the Cellphone providers in different names, but has the same outcome. Either by sending money to village funds, paying for utilities or even add airtime for a friend. The report conducted and made by Economy Policy Research Center at Makerere University we’re an interesting read. Here is the quotes worth assessing over. The historical backdrop of the vast amounts of trillions shillings in the operations. Shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering that one third of Ugandan citizens use the Mobile Money and average rate of monies sent during a month are 250,000. With the amount of people and amounts traded by Mobile Money, it is a booming business and first trying of banking. But doing it directly by the phone and not at the offices of Standard Charted or Barclays. Just take a look!

After 5 years of operation of mobile money services, the average adoption rate stands at 250,000 persons per month from inception (March 2009) to December 2015. The increase in access to formal financial services, from 28 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2013, was partially due to increased access to mobile money 1 See UBOS (2016), “National Population and Housing Census 2014”, Uganda Bureau of Statistics: Kampala services (EPRC 2013). Thirty-five percent of Ugandan adults have a registered mobile money account (Intermedia 2016). An additional 13 percent access services via somebody else’s account, including that of an agent. Mobile money account ownership surpasses the use of both banking and nonbanking financial institutions (Ibid)” (Makwejje & Lakuma, P: 6, 2017).

Finally, mobile money balances are sensitive to monetary policy shocks, while the mobile money values of transactions are not. These results suggest that 1) Mobile money has helped households to substitute liquid and other lumpy assets for financial assets; 2) Mobile money has modest macroeconomic impacts; 3) Mobile money has the potential to improve the effectiveness of the conduct of monetary policy. These results provide additional evidence for policy makers to continue supporting the growth of mobile money platforms. In particular, policy makers should provide the policy and regulatory framework through which mobile money balances can become interest-bearing assets. This will further strengthen the monetary policy transmission mechanism because economic agents will be able to more directly respond to changes in the policy rate” (Makwejje & Lakuma, P: 17-18, 2017).

The authorities clearly has to assess it and look over the Telecom’s Mobile Money operations, as this is important part of transactions and business operations in Uganda. When such vast amounts of people using it and benefits from it. Where their funds turn digital and get traded instead of having dozens of shillings in their pockets as for balance for their trades. Also, gives the ability to send over needed cash up-country or even to family members. Therefore, the structure and the balances of people’s lives can be monitored and shows the interest-bearing assets. The help it has provided the society and also introduce a form of banking institutions to the public. Though this study did not look into the fortunes made by this sort of transactions compared to ordinary banking practices in Uganda. Which, would be interesting expose considering difference of cost for the consumer and Ugandan doing so. Peace.

Reference:

Mawejje, Joseph & Lakuma, Paul C. – ‘MACROECONOMIC EFFECTS OF MOBILE MONEY IN UGANDA’ (June 2017) – Economic Policy Research Centre, Makerere University

Uganda: NIRA – Clarification on Issues Raised in the “Story Panic as National ID Data Stolen” (26.06.2017)

Hon. Evelyn Anite clearly doesn’t know the fair market regulation in the Communication Act of 2000!

 

“Speaking at the launch, the State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization, Hon Evelyn Anite praised UTL for taking the lead in spearheading such initiatives” (Uganda Telecom, 19.06.2017)

Honourable Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment and Privatization, the one who was speaking on the 19th June 2017 at the Constitutional Square in Kampala. This is where she uttered words of special disgrace. Especially in a free-market ideology that the National Resistance Movement (NRM) has bought into with the Structural Adjustment Plan (SAP). Together with the privatization of all sort of markets. Uganda Telecom isn’t the only Cellphone provider or the ones delivering telephone services in Uganda. There are dozens owned by local and by foreign investors. These are all from MTN to Airtel, even Smile Telecom and others. These are in competition and is one of the most profitable industries in Uganda.

Therefore, just look into what the Privatization Minister said yesterday, which is interesting.

Once the managerial problems at Uganda Telecom have been fixed, Ugandans will be compelled to own a UTL Simcard just like having the national identity (ID) card Evelyn Anite, the outspoken State minister for Investment and Privatization has revealed” (…) “”It did not take us to get somebody from another country to come and fix what is [problems] in UTL. We’re not yet done but we are close by…I want to tell you something; that once we fix the problems in Utl, it is going to be compulsory for Ugandans to hold a UTL line just as it is for you to have a national ID, you must have a Ugandan line. That is the spirit of patriotism”, she said” (URN, 2017).

Sometimes, there should be given some public ethics and governance practices to fellow ministers, as their reach and their possible outreach of laws and proposals. Even the State Minister Anite should learn some parts of the Uganda Communications Act of 2000, which says: “56. Commission to encourage fair competition. The commission shall, in the performance of its functions under this Act, promote, develop and enforce fair competition and equality of treatment among all operators in any business or service relating to communication (Uganda Communication Act, 2000). So the laws abiding by the state itself, says it is supposed to be fair, but what is even more neat.

The Second section in Part X, which is worth looking at, since this is the exact part that the operators and the Minister totally forgotten or overlooked, if ever have read: “57. Prohibition of acts exhibiting unfair competition. An operator shall not engage in any activities, whether by act or omission, which have, or are intended to or likely to have, the effect of unfairly preventing, restricting or distorting competition in relation to any business activity relating to communications services. Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), an act or omission referred to under that subsection shall include— any abuse by an operator, either independently or with others, of a dominant position which unfairly excludes or limits competition between the operator and any other party; entering any agreement or engaging in any concerted practice with any other party, which unfairly prevents, restricts or distorts. competition; or (c) the effectuation of anticompetitive changes in the market structure and, in particular, anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions in the communications sector. Neither the Uganda Telecom Limited nor any of its affiliates shall hold or acquire an ownership interest in the second national operator or its affiliates. Neither the second national operator nor its affiliates shall hold or acquire an ownership interest in the Uganda Telecom Limited or any of its affiliates” (Uganda Communication Act, 2000).

So the idea of the State Minister of Privatization are actually thinking of making provisions for the failing state-owned company Uganda Telecom, to get all citizens to have sim-cards and making them costumers in the midst of free-market and also in the midst of all competitions. This is clearly a massive breach of the law and these pieces of legislation. You don’t need to be a scholar or a man of wisdom to understand the possible problems of UTL. This clearly can be seen as limiting the competition and the other companies, as the state only in this way looks into UTL and not helping the other companies. Because she didn’t say all citizens should have MTN and Airtel too, only mentioned UTL.

This is not enforcing free and fair competition and equality of treatment between them. The words of State Minister Evelyn Anite isn’t enacted or become law, even a motion to Parliament. But shows the disregard for functioning law by the own Parliamentarians. That is clearly needed and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga should get the functioning staff to teach their fellow MPs. So they know their laws and provisions within their departments. This so they don’t create these sort of embarrassment, which Anite has done yesterday and revealed today. If not maybe a NRM Caucus at Kyankwanzi could be a learning seminar instead of bashing in the glory of the President and his controlling ways. Peace.

Reference:

URN – ‘Uganda: UTL Simcards to Become Mandatory for Ugandans – Anite’ (20.06.2017) link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201706200332.html

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