In Benin, thousands of Internet users and consumer protection associations rallied this weekend to denounce the adoption of a tax on the use of social media. The #Taxepamesmo (Don’t tax my megabytes) campaign on Facebook and Twitter requests the cancellation of a tax created by the Decree 218-341 of July 25, 2018, on the use of social media. The decree institutes a fee of 5 FCFA per megabyte consumed by the user of Over The Top (OTT) services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Viber, Telegram. A petition on the website Change.org addressed to the Minister of Economy of Benin also received more than 6,500 signatures in 2 days.
Violation of net neutrality
Internet Without Borders is extremely worried about the consequences of the adoption of a tax specific to the use of certain Internet services. It violates the principle of net neutrality, which prohibits discrimination against the source, destination or content of any information transmitted over the network. This principle is at the root of the development of the Internet in all the countries of the world.
“The mobilization of Benin citizens against this tax shows that the Government has not measured the unpopularity of this decree, and its effects on the digital economy in Benin. This tax tripples the price of data bundles usually purchased by the poorest consumers in Benin: Access to 300 MB will go from 200 CFA francs to 1700 FCFA. This does not align with the current trend towards the reduction of Internet access costs. In Benin, as in many countries in West Africa, Internet is mostly used to access social media”, said Qémal Affagnon, West Africa coordinator of Internet Without Borders.
Monsieur le ministre @JoseTonato, votre accès à #Twitter est taxé en #Chine?
Et pourquoi au #Bénin? Je dis hein #TaxePasMesMo #wasexo Cc @Internet_SF @seigla
Et c’est silence radio de la ministre de l’économie numérique @AurelieASZ https://t.co/U5GzTZx3S2
— Joël Arsène Noumonvi (@jnoumonvi) August 31, 2018
Minister @JoseTonato, is your access to Twitter taxed in China? Why is it in Benin, then?
The campaign is also followed on Facebook, where the #Taxepasmesmo hahstag contains calls to boycott Government pages.
The social media tax created in Uganda is counterproductive and dangerous for the digital economy
According to Hervé Coovi GUEDEGBE, executive secretary of the electronic telecommunications regulatory authority of Benin (ARTP), “Benin does not innovate with this tax”, and the latter will increase “the sustainability of the Internet sector”.
This analysis is contrary to existing studies carried out since May 2018 on the specific social media tax in Uganda, the “inventor” of this tax. Removing online conversations through a tax limits financial inclusion, education, and the overall well-being of citizens.
According to a study conducted by the audit firm ICT Research Solutions, the effects of the tax in Uganda are counterproductive for the national economy of this country: revenues of mobile operators have been reduced, and thousands of jobs in the digital sector have been jeopardized.
For more information, please contact:
Qemal Affegnon – West Africa Coordinator
Tags: Bénin, Censorship, Facebook Tax, social media tax, Twitter, Whatsapp