In Summary
  • The issue: Social Media Day.
  • Our view: We recommend that all government ministries, departments and agencies take full advantage of social media to truly engage with the public.

Since the world marks Social Media Day tomorrow (June 30), this is a good time to evaluate social media use in the country. There is no argument that social media has developed further than being a medium of social interactions.

Now, social media is a place of business in different ways. For some, it is another avenue to let people know about the business. Then there are others for whom social media is a vehicle of doing business – the social media influencers whose followership determines how much they charge companies to do business on their behalf.

Social media has also become a place for engagement between government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). To that effect, in 2013, the government released the Uganda Social Media Guide. The guide was developed with the conclusion that, “well-considered and carefully implemented social media can create greater transparency, an interactive relationship with the public, a stronger sense of ownership of government policy and services, and thus a greater public trust in government”.

After the guide was released, several MDAs hired people to run their social media on Twitter and Facebook especially. Some MDAs such as Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) trained some of their staff in social media use. Indeed, people have been able to engage with KCCA through social media much better than they did in the past. KCCA’s social media has, therefore, reached the active phase as described by the guide.

The guide recommends that MDAs start using social media, first as passive observers so that they understand the people who visit them, then they can have a strategic plan for responding and discussing issues with their public. The third and final stage is engagement where the MDAs’ social media are a place of debate with the public.

This is all good because it is important for the public to have an opportunity to interact with their leaders and hold them accountable. However, the actual number of MDAs which have implemented the guide is still very small. Some ministries which should ideally be active are not. The Ministry of Internal
Affairs, for instance, has a Twitter account, @MIA_UG, which was opened in 2013. However, it has been, like its handle suggests, MIA since 2017.
In fact, the last time there was a tweet from the account was 2016. The most recent are all retweets.
Meanwhile, at least 10 people tweet with inquiries, complaints and comments that are related to the ministry. To the ministry’s credit, there is a little bit of interaction on Facebook where the ministry operates Uganda Immigration. We, therefore, recommend that all MDAs take full advantage of social media to truly engage with the public.