This is a funny but serious scenario.
President Yoweri Museveni is being sworn in as we right this piece, but he has just given Ugandans a sour gift. Yesterday, the government through the telecommunication regulatory body ordered all mobile carriers to block access to Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp within Ugandan cyberspace.
This decision is yet another move by the government to block access to social media in Uganda.
You will wonder why Yoweri Museveni is doing this. He is already spending his 30th year as the head of state of Uganda, so he is bound to be criticised by opposition and civil society who might not be taking it cool with him. His government had ordered the shutdown of social media during his election in February this year. His reason was security concerns.
Ugandans have been reported to have turned virtual private networks, VPNs to bypass the blockade.
This decision has backward as it is, is effective for a government that recognises the power of social media to galvanise citizens to protest, share ideas and carry out mass protests that unseat any government.
However, the blockade is counterproductive as means such as VPNs might become a big sell in the country. Many other privacy-ladden platforms can be used to still achieve same purposes. It is also a dent on the country’s investment outlook. Businesses in eCommerce and IT-driven services rely on social media to drive their business and relate with customers.
But Yoweri Museveni knows better, his reign marks more suppressing times ahead for Ugandans.