Justifying Bobi Wine’s ‘Fiscal Policy’

A few weeks back, Bobi Wine’s interview on NTV’s On the Spot landed him in hot soup when news made rounds especially across different social media platforms and political circles originating from his response to the question regarding fiscal policies and GDP. Many people laughed him off when he suggested removing OTT tax on Social Media users and others were quick to conclude that he wasn’t yet ready for the biggest office in the land. Somehow, the musician legislator managed to go through the trying time and he’s releasing a song about the issue but that’s a story for another day.

But the question is, isn’t there any relationship between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and internet usage? According to an article titled “Why free Wi-Fi #MyUG is a strategic intervention” in The New Vision newspaper of Wednesday, January 11, 2017 on page 14; the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Information, Communications Technology and National Guidance Mr. Bagiire Vincent Waiswa confirms the existing relationship.

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As he was trying to address the mixed reactions received following the initiative particularly “the cost of delivering a free service in relation to sustainability and the requirement for users that access the network to be registered”, he somehow brought up the GDP issue in line with Internet usage. Quoting him, he wrote “Last but not least, the network readiness indices by the World Economic Forum together with statistics from the International Telecommunication Union, ITU and the World Bank demonstrate a causal relationship between Internet usage and GDP per capita (current). The higher the internet usage among other variables in a given country, the higher the GDP per capita in current terms.”

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He went on to stress the point with statistics from ITU and World Bank (2015) that “out of 100 Internet users, Kenya had 45.6, Ghana 23.5, Uganda 19.2 and Rwanda 18. In terms of GDP per capita (Current), Kenya had 1,376.7$, Ghana 1,369$, Uganda 705.3$ and Rwanda 697.3$. These facts and figures are the motivation for Government to increase access to the internet, address cost issues to make it more affordable, migrate and deliver Government services in a secure online environment in tandem with the core objectives of the National Development Plan.”

Therefore unless the above dynamics have changed in the last two years since this article was written by a government official, there’s a greater possibility that Bobi Wine’s response was valid.