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In Uganda, you now need about $19 a year to be on social media

Millions of people in Uganda now have to pay to use popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter as new rules come into force

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Millions of people in Uganda now have to pay to use popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter as new rules come into force.

In late May, the Ugandan parliament passed legislation that introduced a tax on the use of the so-called Over The Top (OTT) social media platforms offering voice and messaging services.

As of Sunday, users are required to pay 200 shillings a day (about $0.05) to access any of the more than 60 such OTT platforms.

This translates into about $1.5 a month and $19 a year, in a country where millions live on less than $1 a year.

The government says the measure will bring in much-needed revenue to turn the country into a middle-income one by 2020.

But social media users say the tax violates their right to freedom of expression, will deny people business opportunities and leave Ugandans even poorer.
Human rights activists argue the tax is in bad faith and say they are preparing a constitutional challenge.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 32 years, has spoken dismissively about social media users and said the tax was aimed at dealing with the consequences of online “gossip”.

Critics have previously accused the government of evoking questionable incitement laws, relics of British colonialism, to silence dissent.

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AFC to invest $40m in African Medical Centre of Excellence in Nigeria

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The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has committed $40 million equity investment in the African Medical Centre of Excellence (AMCE) in Abuja, Nigeria.

AFC, which is Africa’s top instrumental infrastructure solutions provider, signed the equity investment term sheet pledging the sum towards the construction of the AMCE hospital.

According to a statement by AFC President and CEO, Samaila Zubairu, the agreement will see the visionary 500-bed medical health facility currently being developed by Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in partnership with King’s College Hospital, London (KCH), become one of the best health facilities in the continent.

Zubairu said the agreement which was signed at the inaugural AMCE African Health Forum in Abuja on Friday, will “strategically harness KCH’s unparalleled diagnostic, clinical, and capacity-building expertise and specialise in three core non-communicable diseases – oncology, cardiology, and haematology – with a commitment to world-class research, education, and development capabilities to establish itself as a leader in clinical services.”

“The AMCE initiative heralds a revolution in healthcare in West Africa. It aims to turn the tide of medical tourism away from the continent by building the first in a series of world-class medical centres of excellence in Africa, thus providing widespread access to critical health care in the region,” the AFC CEO said.

“Africa’s healthcare sector suffers a severe and alarming infrastructure gap and a shortage of qualified medical practitioners.

“We are therefore pleased to partner alongside Afreximbank and King’s College Hospital, London, on this epoch-making project that will transform healthcare in Africa and contribute to a reversal in medical tourism.

“Building a world-class facility that captures medical spend in Africa, promotes specialist skills development, retains and, most importantly, attracts healthcare practitioners in our local communities, aligns well with AFC’s import substitution strategy and we look forward to working with all partners to establish the AMCE as a beacon of medical excellence on the continent.”

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Uganda’s Diamond Trust Bank partners TerraPay for ease of global money transfers

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Leading Ugandan bank, Diamond Trust Bank Uganda (DTBU), has entered into a partnership with global cross-border payments network company, TerraPay, aimed at expanding international money transfers and strengthening financial inclusion in the country.

While announcing the strategic partnership on Friday, DTBU, a member of the Diamond Trust Bank Group, said both firms will deliver unparalleled benefits to customers worldwide with the key attributes of the partnership being the “ability to facilitate direct account deposits from any part of the world and leverage DTB’s renowned brand name to optimize advantages for customers across the globe.”

A statement by the Managing Director, Diamond Trust Bank Uganda, Varghese Thambi, noted that the partnership is poised to “significantly narrow the financial inclusion gap, streamlining the processes of money transfer, savings, and credit accessibility for individuals.”

“We are committed to providing our customers with the best possible banking experience.

“This partnership with TerraPay will allow us to offer our customers faster, more convenient, and more secure money transfers, with lower fees.

“By forging this collaboration with TerraPay, Diamond Trust Bank Uganda will witness an expansion in its customer base for international money transfers, consequently bolstering direct international investments within the nation.

“Notably, this initiative will greatly benefit customers and expatriates residing in the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Kenya, Germany, Qatar, Canada, and Europe, granting them the capability to execute real-time money transfers to their loved ones in Uganda, a pivotal hub within this partnership.”

Also commenting on the partnership, Willie Kanyeki, TerraPay’s Vice President, East and South Africa, said:

“We are excited to partner with Diamond Trust Bank Uganda to expand our reach in East Africa and make it easier for people to send and receive money across borders.

“This partnership will help us achieve our goal of providing everyone with access to affordable, reliable financial services. Diamond Trust Bank Uganda is a well-respected bank with a strong track record of providing excellent customer service.

“We are confident that this partnership will be a success and will help promote financial inclusion in the region, by simplifying global money movement for both individuals and businesses, making it easier than ever to connect with loved ones and also, empower global commerce.”

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