Uganda’s Mobile Money Censorship is a Testament to Bitcoin

Money as a form of Communication

The censorship of mobile money in Uganda during its Presidential and parliamentary elections, is a testament to the need for apolitical digital currencies like bitcoin. Money, just like media is a means of communication. Just as social media censorship riles up freedom activists, so should forms of censorship on money.

On election day, Ugandans woke up to no social media and no mobile money services. Nearly 20 million mobile money users were unable to access the service for at least two-and-half days.

The daily Monitor reported that a state directive, via the UCC (Uganda Communications Authority), had instructed MTN and other Telcos to disable all Social Media & Mobile Money services due to a threat to Public Order & Safety.

Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director UCC used the oft-cited “national security reasons” and“in order to avert imminent attack (sic) by terrorist groups”  to justify the actions of the state (?) It is worth mentioning here that, Yoweri Museveni, the incumbent, has been president since 29 January 1986, and is characterized by mainstream media as dictatorial, authoritarian and exerting his influence by force.

Why is my mobile money not working?

We are at a fickle point in the transition of money from paper to digital forms and this moment calls for some clarity. Mobile money is NOT cash, and I particularly despise media use of ‘mobile cash’ when what they really mean to say is mobile money.

In the case of Uganda, the censorship did not affect paper money and cash, only mobile money. Why? Because

physical cash really is fundamentally different to every other form of money: only physical cash is a bearer instrument. And only physical cash can be transferred without permission – censorship-resistant.

When you have cash, no one can stop you from transferring it, it is censorship resistant. Unfortunately, as we increasingly shift to using mobile money, this crucial feature is blurred. Instead, our money becomes subject to the whims of dictators, central banks, telecommunications companies – everyone except you and me.

Lessons for Money from Uganda’s Opposition Leaders

Ugandan opposition leaders naturally found a bypass to the block, and did not hesitate to share this (via social media) with the public

Amama Mbabazi, a 66-year-old lawyer who was one of incumbents closest advisers for 30 years, sent messages on both Twitter and Facebook suggesting supporters used “Tunnelbear VPN



So what is the Tunnelbear VPN of Money?


Bitcoin is a censorship resistant digital currency, electronic peer to peer cash, the first of its kind. Unlike mobile money, when you own bitcoin, no one can stop you from transferring it because it is decentralized. It cannot be shut down because it is not issued by central authorities like banks or Telcos.

Therefore, it is reasonable to expect a censorship of money event in East Africa or Kenya at some point in future, would drive people to seek safety in a digital asset like bitcoin.


  1. Thats agood idea , but probably its gonna affect the uneducated natives

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