Happy New Year!
This year starts on a very interesting note as campaigns are underway in Uganda – as we see political leaders campaigning to stay or get into office.
Very crucial to this year’s elections is the use of Social Media platforms for mobilization of voters and hopefully votes.
I have been asked so many times – will this be Uganda’s first social media election? And I always want to ask – ‘What is a Social Media Election’? In 2011, there were a handful of young people on Twitter and Facebook that talked about the elections. I remember the hashtag for Election day and period was #UgandaVotes. This election period #UgandaDecides is the go to- hashtag. On a good day, there will be about 1000 tweets sent out with the hashtag.
The various Presidential Aspirants have got their own for their campaign activities: Amama Mbabazi is using #AmamaTrail and #GoForward2016. Dr Colnel Kizza Besigye’s team is using #WesigeBesigye. The incumbent President Yoweri Museveni is using #VoteSevo and #SteadyProgress. The other presidential aspirants are not that visible online.
That said: Has Social Media had an Impact on Political Communication & Civic Engagement in Uganda? Yes it has. We have seen quite a lot of it in this election period. Will Social Media be able to ‘deliver victory’ in the coming elections – I am not so sure about that, it depends on who you are talking to and how one is able to measure the impact . However the truth is – ALOT has changed since 2011. There is a lot more use of Social Media Platforms by both the citizenry and the politicians.
A couple of great authors brought together by Konrad Adeneaur Stiftung have put together a timely publication titled : Assessing the Impact Of Social Media on Political Communication and Civic Engagement in Uganda – this I believe is just the beginning of the conversation of the good that Social Media is able to bring to our community. You can download a copy of it here : [I feature in there somewhere] and let us get this conversation started. Assessing the Impact of Social Media