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How to Pay OTT Social Media Tax in Uganda on Airtel MTN & Africell Using Mobile Money Airtime


In 2018, finance state minister  in Uganda, David Bahati,  under the directive of President Museveni introduced the bill that was subsequently endorsed by parliament where all internet users were to pay tax to use internet in a move to increase taxes. Bahati had assured the public that only UShs100 will be collected per day for any one to use the OTT services.

Telecom companies, MTN, Airtel and Africell have said that once the government implements the service charges for over the top services, (OTT) access will only be granted to customers whose payments are received via mobile money.


Ahead of the actual implementation of internet taxes, the telecommunication companies say that access to over the top services will be blocked on July 1st 2018.

Over the top services are sites that offer voice and messaging services over the internet like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter among others. Users are expected to pay an excise duty of Shs 200 per day or Shs 1400 weekly and Shs 6000 a month to access these services.

“Access will be granted for a calendar day until 12:00am for the day, that is, until midnight if the customer has paid for one day,” noted the Telecom service providers.

Airtel customers are to make payments by dialing *185*2*5# while MTN users will use *165*2*5#
Africel customers were advised to use Airtel or MTN mobile money to pay the tax.

To President Museveni, the tax was introduced to reduce gossip that goes on social media platforms.

How to Pay OTT Social Media Tax in Uganda on Airtel MTN & Africell

  1. On your smartphone, dial *165*2*8# if you’re on MTN Uganda, and for  Airtel, dial *185*2*5# and Africel, dial *144*2*5#
  2. Kindly select an option that best suits you as seen in the image below.
  3. Select the package you wish to pay for. Ie, daily, weekly or monthly. Kindly note that you’re unable to subscribe for a yearly package as it’s not available as of writing.
  4. Kindly confirm your transaction. If you wish to return / back, press zero (0).
  5. You’re through. By the time you see this confirmation, you’re now able to use your blocked social media apps. Just turn on your mobile data and enjoy.
  6. Unlike other Internet service providers like Tangerine whose major customer base are data and internet users, they opted to add a top up on the monthly data plans to reflect the tax charges. In this case, a Tangerine customer will have to pay plus UGX 6000 for the monthly data charges.Please disregard the UGX 10000 increment on OTT tax payment by Tangerine customers as it was sent in error. Said Tangerine in a statement.

On the other hand Smile Communications gave a response to the said Social Media Tax that it had opted to pay on behalf of their customers. In a statement, it said:

“We have got you covered!! Following the introduction of OTT tax, commonly referred to as “Social Media Tax” that was effected 1st July 2018 by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), we are pleased to inform you that as a valued customer of Smile, we will pay this new tax on your behalf. Just continue to purchase and use Smile Bundles like you used to in the past. There is NO need for additional subscription steps to access and enjoy Social Media services from Smile!!”

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