Social media product marketing brought to a near standstill in #Uganda

FOOD DELIVERY SERVICES AND BOOKING PLATFORMS USING FACEBOOK PAGES BEGIN TO COUNT THEIR LOSSES WHILE TOURISTS UNABLE TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES

(Posted 01st July 2018)

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Businesses in Uganda, using Facebook pages as the main mean to reach their target clientele, be it for booking bus tickets, food deliveries, product purchases and deliveries and more, are starting to count the impact of a huge number of their clients finding themselves out of access to their social media platforms after communications companies had to cut them off pending payment of an ill considered and by the look of it hurtful tax regime on web access to social and business media platforms unless a tax is paid – with the implementation remaining unclear.

The LinkedIn business platform too is affected, although its primary use is the interaction of connected businesses across all economic sectors, clearly very different from social media platforms like Facebook, where the majority of subscribers are still individuals, however with a fast growing percentage of Facebook business pages solely dedicated to promoting and doing business through this outlet.

Also affected are companies using the WhatsApp platform to communicate with their field staff and it needs to be said here, not for gossiping but for giving work instructions and directions to sales staff, repair and maintenance teams on the job and also for making sure delivery drivers reach the correct address to get products, including urgent medicines, to their destination.
Much of this form of communications will now have to revert to phone voice calls, driving up the cost of doing business and making the country less competitive in regional and international comparison.

Notably are tourists also affected now, unable to post their vacation pictures for their home audience far away from Uganda unless they too pay the tax, impossible for most as they do not have local mobile money accounts or, while on safari, access to the service centres of telecommunications companies. This has been a growing element in promoting the country as shared experiences, via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram gave Uganda a free promotional avenue of word of mouth or in this case pictures taken and shared with the rest of the world, attracting friends and relatives to also visit the country.

Also impossible to access, unless the tax is paid, are the educational services of YouTube tutorials which have provided millions of individuals around the world with specific details how to do things in the field of science and business at large, giving often entirely free advice to those in most need as they either cannot afford the services of consultants or else have no direct access to schools or courses to find out what they need to know.

How this will play out only time will tell but when the full impact of the new tax measures becomes apparent and the losses incurred rise, may government well rethink its approach and suspend the measure to find different ways and means to raise tax revenue, rather than forcing communications channels to be closed for those unable to afford or logistically unable to make payment of the new social media taxes which became effective at midnight.

 

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Anyone NOT having a mobile money account, or does not wish to have a mobile money account – now also subject to a tax for every transaction – will find her- or himself out of options as apparently no mechanism has been devised at this stage, when the tax is now applicable, to pay it through other means, i.e. out of airtime on one’s phone or cash payments through the respective sales outlets.

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