How Social Media is transforming Uganda’s political and social landscape

The second annual KAS Social Media Conference took place on 19th July at the Kampala Serena Hotel. It brought together key stakeholders from academia, government, civil society and the media to have a constructive exchange on the opportunities and challenges of the growing social media sphere and to assess how it is shaping the political and social landscape in the country.



Here's a summary clip of the 2016 Social Media Conference:


Check out the 2016 event report and pictures here

THE 2016 EVENT WAS LIVESTREAMED: Click here for the recorded video.



The Uganda Social Media Conference is an annual KAS-Uganda programme that aims to bring together key stakeholders from government, civil society and the media to have a constructive exchange on the opportunities and risks of the growing social media sphere and to assess the impact it has on citizen-state engagement. Started in 2015, the conference provides a unique platform for theorizing, dialoguing and engaging on how this unique media tool can be harnessed to promote democratic consolidation and good governance.

The media evolution from print to radio, to TV and now online media has continued to inform and shape mass opinions and perceptions in society. Social media connects people in many ways and voices that were previously unheard burst to the limelight and stories of individuals are harder to suppress than ever before. The emergence of social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube that bypass the traditional gatekeeping role of media means many citizens are able to access and share information before even the media gets to the scene. The power of social media to democratize communication and remove controls is putting to test some of the long held roles of the media. Social media now enables the opinions, perception and actions of the majority who previously relied on traditional and mainstream media, to freely flow among groups.

In Uganda the last years have seen a rise in social media. Millions of Ugandans access the internet - many of them through their mobile phones - and are joining social media platforms in ever increasing numbers. With such masses of people using Facebook, Twitter and messaging apps like WhatsApp the ways we communicate and share information are fast changing. A news statement can advance from zero to a million viewers overnight. The viral nature of this highly social, user-driven environment enables complete strangers to connect over common beliefs, desires or interests.

This fast-paced communication has also put to test governments who are still operating in traditional ways. On social media Ugandans have found a voice where they can express their concerns and views on many aspects of life and have shown that for sure the internet is a powerful tool for mobilization. From cancer fundraiser drives to outpouring public outcry on many mismanaged institutions, Ugandans are rallying on social media and making a community capable of making themselves heard. The expanding platforms seem to come at a time when civic space is steadily narrowing hence playing a key role in keeping a nation in conversation with itself in the face of controls. On social media marginalized voices have found ways to speak up about their experiences which would not have happened before.

In its global engagement in the promotion of democracy and good governance, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) has a long history of promoting free and professional media through journalism trainings and scholarship programmes as well as facilitating networking and dialogue platforms. Through the Media Programme for Subsahara Africa based in Johannesburg, KAS supports journalists, bloggers and political communicators across the continent, for example by facilitating the online platform Africa Blogging.

In Uganda, KAS in July 2015 organized the first ever platform meant to focus on the political dimension of social media in the country. The 2015 Social Media Conference brought together a host of experts and professionals from civil society, media practitioners and scholars, political activists, and government officials to assess the impact of social media on political communication and civic engagement.

To further strengthen and understand the scientific perspectives on social media and political communication, KAS dedicated volume 9 of the publication series Reality Check to synthesize this new digital opportunity. Launched in January 2016, the publication unearths the theoretical underpinnings, new emancipatory potentials, the contribution of social media in the 2016 presidential election campaigns and the NGO/Civil Society perspective of social media.

The 2016 conference will continue and deepen the discussion and provide an opportunity to explore the topic in many more facettes. A great number of carefully selected experts will enrich the highly interactive panels with diverse perspectives that will stimulate participants' engagement.


Mathias Kamp, Country Representative, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung


Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, Minister for ICT, Information and Communication


Daniel Kalinaki, Managing Editor, Nation Media Group, Nairobi


OPENING PANEL: Social Media redefining democratic space in Uganda: Building bridges or building walls?

Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four Uganda

Rosebell Kagumire, Chief Executive, Kweeta Consulting

Patience Akumu, Policy and Research Coordinator, Oxfam Uganda

MODERATOR: Solomon Serwanjja, News Anchor and Reporter, NBS

BREAK-AWAY PANEL 1: Women and social media in Uganda: breaking barriers - but at what cost?

Henry Nickson Ogwal, Fundraising Director, Action Aid Uganda

Godiva Akullo, Feminist lawyer

Dr. Sarah Ssali, Makerere School of Gender and Women Studies

Lindsey Kukunda, Blogger and Freelance Writer

Moses Owiny, Information Officer, Women of Uganda Network

CHAIR: Rebecca Rwakabukoza, Author and Blogger

BREAK-AWAY PANEL 2: Contemporary culture and social media: Big opportunities - tough questions

Violet Nantume, Artist & curator of eroticism and intimacy exhibition

Harriet Anena, Author of a Nation in Labor

Kyomuhendo Ateenyi, Arts Curator and Co-Founder, CACE

Andrew Salema Ludigo, Visual Artist, Mandela Washington Fellow 2015

CHAIR: Donnas Ojok, Programme Officer, KAS

BREAK-AWAY PANEL 3: Traditional media in the age of social media: challenges and opportunities for a Ugandan journalist today

Catherine Byaruhanga, BBC Uganda Correspondent

Remmy Bahati, News Reporter, NBS

Gerald Bareebe, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

Giles Muhame, Managing Editor, Chimp Reports

Edward Sekyewa, Executive Director, Hub for Investigative Media

CHAIR: Joy Doreen Biira, Journalist and News Anchor, KTN

BREAK-AWAY PANEL 4: Advancing good governance and service delivery through social media

Prossy Kawala, Journalist & Media Literacy Advocate, CEMCOD

Patrick Kayemba, Iganga District LC5 Chairman

Eshban Kwesiga, Programme Manager, Parliament Watch

Peter Kaujju, Spokesperson, KCCA

Maureen Agena, ICT4D Consultant

CHAIR: Gawaya Tegulle, Media Consultant

CLOSING PANEL & PLENARY DISCUSSION: Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media – Where are we heading?

Ruth Aine, Blogger

Daniel Kalinaki, Managing Editor, Nation Media Group

Joy Doreen Biira, Journalist and News Anchor, KTN

Donnas Ojok, Programme Officer, KAS

Julius Mucunguzi, Communications Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister

MODERATOR: Sheila Nduhukire, Political Reporter and Anchor, NTV


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Social Media Conference 2015

Contact person

Mathias Kamp

Head of the KAS office Uganda

Mathias Kamp
Phone +256 312 26 20 11/2

Donnas Ojok

Programme Officer

Donnas Ojok
Phone +256 312 262 011/2
Languages: English