Happy New Year!
his year starts on a very interesting note for Ugandans as political campaigns are underway in the country – as political leaders are busy 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