Governments are taxing the internet to fund ballooning budgets.
Africa is witnessing a reversal of the wave that swept the internet into public and private spaces cumulating to a declaration more than 15 years ago that made it a human right.
Following liberalization of the economy which allowed more service providers, deregulation and investments in internet as well as a youth who were literally born in the dot com era, internet became almost a basic need.
Business workers had to have local area networks (LAN) to do daily duties as work migrated to the microchips.
For the service industry, a Wi-Fi connection was a basic before-sales-service as clients would strut in and demand for the Wi-Fi password as they wait to be served.
But now offices are going for affordable internet plans to cut costs just as they listed photocopy paper and leaving a switch on after office hours, blocking some utilities like WhatsApp which several data audits indicates takes up massive data use in downloaded and uploaded content.
Businesses have complex passwords which they keep changing to manage the logs and ensure they can manage their data expenses.
Governments are increasingly taxing the internet seeing that its ubiquitous use affords an opportunity to raise more cash for their expanding budgets.
Uganda imposed a $0.05 (Sh5) daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Twitter.
Zambia’s government alerted its citizens that it plans to introduce daily tax charges for the use of internet call services such as WhatsApp calls and Skype.
Kenya hiked excise duty on airtime and data services from the current 10 percent to 15 percent. This means that for every value of data worth Sh100 airtime currently being charged Sh10 tax will now see the Treasury levy Sh15.
As internet data increasingly gets squeezed, personal use has to reflect this dynamism especially where your personal income is limited and you have additional priorities which need to be balanced.
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For a long time and for most people, we used to spend incomes, airtime, data etc. until they ran out because there were simply limited tools to plan and save, unless you were a disciplined book-keeper and could do your records on that excel sheet.
But with technology things have become easier, in-built managers can offer quite elaborate plans detailing the trends of your use and help you plan better.
For instance Commercial Bank of Africa has the Loop application which one can use to plan how best to spend their incomes even helping identify where expenses can be reduced, redirected or saved.
Safaricom has the My Safaricom mobile app that tracks your data use and can help tell you how much data you consume on average, and which applications are consuming the most data.
Don’t expect to have 500MB and expect to watch an hour of Netflix, or open up a hotspot for your friends with only a 100 MB data plan, have a realistic spending plan.
Once you know how much data you need over time, you then know which sites or applications to prioritize be it entertainment or business, and then you are able to shop around for the best possible discounts.
For instance, you can get more value if you take advantage of the affordable data plans by the telco giant Safaricom, categorized into three; Daily, weekly and monthly bundles. Interestingly you will still be able to use WhatsApp for free even after your bundles are depleted for the validity of the bundle you have.
And it is not just data that you can save, with the increased impact of the Value Added Tax on fuel, get deals with the integration of simple things like the Platinum Plus, Safaricom’s monthly data, voice and SMS plans that is interwoven with Eat Out, Ticketsasa and Shell at 20 percent discount.
With Plans ranging from Ksh 2000 to Ksh 10000, existing Safaricom users can join this lifestyle-driven month to month tariff via the Mysafaricom App