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Case study – Social media and politics in Uganda

Case study - Social media and politics in Uganda
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Hello so today we’re at KAS which is a German  foundation uh they work in all over the world   um but we’re here in Kampala in Uganda um  to find out about the kind of work they do. One of the things they do is work around social  media and local governments and I was invited   to a conference this year where I got to meet all  sorts of different people from politicians to the   communications director for the Ugandan  government to NGO workers and bloggers.   So that’s one of the kinds of things that they  do they also write reports like this social media   local governance and development in Uganda.
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My name  is Ojok Okelo I’m a program officer at the conrad   at the north staffton Uganda and South Sudan. As a  political foundation we are kindly interested but   also invested in promoting constructive discourse  on social media not only in Uganda but worldwide.   In Uganda particularly we’ve been at the forefront  of facilitating conversations on how social media   can be an effective tool for political  uh activities and political participation.   We do this because we understand that there is  lots of engagements already on social media for   as a technological tool for instance for social  media and business, social media and marketing   but we realized there was this disconnect this  gap in conversations about politics and social   media and so this is why we’re coming and we do  this uh for instance through organizing under   social media conference which has been running  five years in a row now we also do research on   critical and crucial and various components of  social media.
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One of the conferences we organized   for instance around the elections in 2006 was  how politicians or political actors can use   social media for campaigning for organizing and  for engaging with their electorates and we do we   do analytical reports also on the social media  performances of the different political actors   and now they engage their audience and we write  reports and we share it well worldwide through our   social media platforms and the website so people  can understand the trends and how the politicians   are using social media for their manifestos you  know and and all these kinds of stuff.
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But we’ve   also been of course studying the evolving nature  of social media and several issues around it for   instance fake news and disinformation so we also  organize platforms just to reflect and sensitize   people because we believe that people should know, people should understand because if they start   using something from a point of knowledge  then maybe they will use it constructively   so we’ve been doing this and having several  conversations also around digital democracy   you know we believe this is important and we’ve  also been doing research around social media   and local governance and not just research we’ve  actually been training local government officers   in across the country on how they could use  social media to inform people but also how they   can view or consider social media as a  tool for promoting access to information.

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) is a political foundation with a long history of promoting independent and professional media through journalism trainings and scholarship programmes as well as facilitating networking and dialogue platforms.

They are particularly interested in facilitating conversations on how social media can be an effective tool for political participation. Over the last five years KAS have organised an annual conference in Kampala which brings together key stakeholders from government, civil society, academia and the media to discuss the impact of social media and highlight the opportunities and challenges. The conference provides a platform to discuss how social media can help shape social and political interactions.

KAS has also commissioned a number of reports which research the evolving nature of social media and how politicians and political actors can use social media for campaigning, organising and engaging with their electorates. In 2019 they published a report entitled Social Media, local governance and development in Uganda. The paper explores why social media can help improve local governance and how local government can utilise social media to promote citizen-government engagement. The report concludes that if citizens are actively involved in discussions about government programmes and major policy changes, service delivery and quality of life will improve.

For digital governance to work the report recommends that:

  • Central government implement localised social media policies
  • Central government ensure local government leaders understand the importance of social media in their communications
  • Local government departments integrate social media communication in their annual budgets
  • Local government departments are trained in the use of social media

References:

Agena M, Ojok D & Achol T (2019). Social Media, Local Governance and Development in Uganda.

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Uganda and South Sudan. Research Paper 19/01.

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