Uganda Top VPN, Legality, Stats, And Recommendations
Uganda was one of the first nations in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain full Internet connectivity. However, the landlocked African country of Uganda has a long history of limited Internet freedom and access. Internet penetration in the country is low, with around 35% of the country having Internet connectivity. The spread of Internet accses in Uganda is restricted by the country’s social media tax. Before it’s implementation, Internet penetration was at 47%.
The country boasts 12,468 free WiFi hotspots, with most located in the capital city of Kampala. Public WiFi networks are vulnerable to cyberattacks and hackers. As a result, many residents of Kampala and elsewhere in the country actively seek out ways to protect their information while online.
New government policies, such as the social media tax, penalize citizens financially for using specific online platforms.
If you wish to circumvent financial costs, protect your data and access geo-blocked content, it could be smart to use a VPN in Uganda.
Is It Legal To Use A VPN In Uganda?
While VPNs are not illegal in Uganda, the government does block VPN traffic. They have even previously ordered ISPs to block customers who use VPNs. The consequences of being caught are serious. Some lawmakers even push for harsh legal ramifications, including jail time.
Why Use a VPN in Uganda?
With the potential of such serious consequences, should you still use a VPN in Uganda? In brief, yes.
The Social Media Tax
In July of 2018, the government of Uganda made the use of social media taxable. Since this date, the government requires a daily fee of 200 Ugandan Shillings (around $0.05 USD) to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking sites. The exact reasoning for the law is debatable. Many believe the government wants to prevent social media use to curtail “gossip.” To escape paying this tax, many citizens began using a VPN.
The government doesn’t directly censor websites, but they do track user activity. Officials then make their own decisions on what action to take. Though there is no censorship of political and adult websites, surveillance tactics continue to create problems for citizens. The government is often known to crack down on people who voice their political opinions. More extreme measures are in place for people who publicly oppose the government.
An amendment made to the 2017 Uganda Communications Bill allows the government the freedom to be in charge of Internet security decisions. Arrests are made with information the government finds, including that of people who share acts of violence by the military.
Uganda is not a member of a bigger intelligence agency such as 9 Eyes or 14 Eyes, so the country does not actively share data with other countries. Generally, Ugandan citizens don’t need to be as concerned about the government sharing their information. They should, however, be concerned with government surveillance.
Should You Use a VPN in Uganda?
Since the implementation of the social media tax in Uganda, the use of a VPN can be pursued as a criminal offense. According to human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo, the government can charge citizens with violating the tax act, a punishment that carries a fine of up to seven years. The government has made public announcements on social media, speaking out against using VPNs. President Yoweri Museveni stated that the tax is in place to create revenue. The purpose of the social media tax is to lead the country out of poverty. Whether this plan works is still to be seen.
Furthermore, the Ugandan government states they have the technology to block VPN services, even as companies create more advanced methods of circumventing restrictions. So far the laws have resulted in a drop in Internet usage. Many other citizens continue to install and use VPN services, sharing their disapproval with hashtags such as #thistaxmustgo.
If you choose to use a VPN, certain features can make for a better Internet experience in Uganda. A quality paid VPN encrypts all of your traffic, which protects your data. Every time you go online, your true IP address is masked. Instead, it appears as you are logging on to the Internet from a different country. Changing your location will also allow you to circumvent the social media tax, but be careful. Free VPNs in particular do not have strong security measures in place and can be easily detected or tracked by government surveillance. Before you install a VPN, make sure to check the features that are offered.
Public WiFi Threats
Uganda is an impoverished nation where the average citizen lives off of less than $1 USD a day. In this financial climate, the lure of free Internet is enticing. But these are easy places to not only install surveillance, but also for hackers to gain access to your personal information. The use of a VPN while on public WiFi will give you further protection against hackers and cybercriminals. You likely log onto public WiFi hotspots via a mobile device. If you decide to use a VPN in Uganda, make sure you also install it onto your phone, tablet, and laptop.
Compare The Best VPNs In Uganda
Internet Speed and VPN Accessibility
The average Internet speed in Uganda is low, especially when compared to other countries. The country currently ranks 117 out of 190 countries for mobile Internet speeds. The average download speed is 14.91 megabits per second (Mbps). The upload speed averages around 6.24 Mbps. For fixed broadband Internet, Uganda ranks 137 out of 190.
What is considered a good internet speed? At or above 25 Mbps qualifies as good. With slow speed throughout Uganda, there is an increase in buffering and latency while using streaming services.
Where to Find VPN Servers
As VPN use is heavily tracked in Uganda, providers do not have servers inside the country. You will have to select another country for your IP address, but this adds additional protection. With such intense government surveillance, the use of a Ugandan IP address still leaves you vulnerable to government tracking.
VPN Features to Look For
A quality VPN will have strong security features to protect your Internet use in Uganda. Strong data encryption helps shield your information from the government. Advanced security protocols such as multi-hopping increase your anonymity by passing your IP address through multiple VPN servers.
If you’re looking for a VPN to use in Uganda, then you should also check for fast Internet speeds. Connection speeds are already so low that you need to make sure your VPN doesn’t reduce this any further. It’s also smart to check for a large network of servers. Servers can become overcrowded, and there are quite a few other countries in Africa that have strong censorship regulations and laws regarding VPNs. With multiple servers, you can route your IP address to a country that has a more favorable outlook on VPNs.
The low use of the Internet in Uganda is a combination of economics and fear. If you have fears about your information becoming public and shared without your knowledge, then you should use a VPN. In a country where the average income is $600 USD per year, a social media tax can have serious financial consequences. Use a VPN to combat this, but be aware the government could be watching very closely.
Detailed Information About Ugandan VPNs in 2021
Primary Official Language: English
Domain Extension: .ug
Local Google Domain: google.co.ug
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