Social Media TV Shows in Uganda

#TAG is a social media based television show which was launched in 2014 Urban TV, Uganda. It was established to capture the voices of people who are increasingly expressing their opinions and lifestyles online as opposed to communicating via traditional media. Last week, Uganda’s largest TV station, NTV also launched it’s own social media show called #TIMELINE256. I spoke to (actually it was via Twitter DM message) presenters from both shows to find out more.

#TAG was chosen as a title to highlight the show as a place where online conversation can be aggregated. Dan Mumbere, #TAG presenter said “The show is designed to capture social media conversations and uses platforms like Skype and Google Hangouts to present them. The show has effectively captured the moods and views of the online community on policy issues like the elections, budget process, financial bailouts and so on. The model we have used in the past is to document trends, but we are increasingly exploring options of setting the trends by introducing, moderating and trending critical conversations on social media, social issues affecting our target audience ( youth) including governance and policy

Many social issues have been covered since the shows inception including #LetGirlsBeGirls, #RegulateBodaBodas and #NoToHumanTrafficking. The show acts as an extended voicebox which can amplify voices and ideas via mainstream television.

#TIMELINE256 was launched last week on Uganda’s largest television station NTV Uganda. The show is aired three times a day at 9.00am, 4.55pm and 10.00pm. Brian Mulondo presenter of the show said “One of the purposes of the show is to encourage viewers and especially Ugandans to start trends, but also to contribute to global hashtags. We want to encourage responsible social media use and our long term goal is to develop the show into something similar to Al Jazeera’s The Stream”

To encourage participation from non social media users, presenters on the show go out to the streets to seek views. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram enable people to participate using their preferred medium. They are also in the process of creating a WhatsApp broadcast list where people can subscribe to receive weekly episodes. Brian added “The intention of these platforms is to encourage citizen journalism and widen participation in discussions around topics important in Uganda.”

According to a recent paper ‘Assembling the Impact of Social Media on Political Communication and Civic Engagement in Uganda‘ social media participation in Uganda is mostly educated urban youth. The majority of Uganda’s population live in rural areas, with little infrastructure to support social media usage. Other problems include illiteracy and the asymmetric distribution of content. Individuals’ social media networks tend to be homophilous, meaning that social media influencers in Uganda are often connected to one another. Kiranda (2015) believes that mass media is bound to geographical communities, whereas social media platforms tend to be bound by peers and like minded individuals. To this extent, #TAG and #TIMELINE256 have the potential to amplify social media discussions to wider national audiences as well as educating citizens on the power of online debate.

 

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Midwivesforall – Engaging policy makers through social media

Nearly 300,000 women lose their life due to childbirth every year and almost 3 million newborns die in the first month of their life. Earlier this year the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden launched a global campaign called ‘midwives4all’.

Uganda’s maternal and health indicators are amongst the poorest in the world. High maternal mortality is fuelled by a lack of trained midwives and low staff retention. As a response to this the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda joined the midwives4all campaign to influence policy makers, mobilise communities and attract young people to train as midwives.

Next up in our warm-up for the #midwives4all documentary, our champion, Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of State for Health, on Uganda’s progress with MDG 4 and 5

Posted by Embassy of Sweden in Kampala on Friday, June 12, 2015

 midwives4all worked with mass media (TV, radio and print) and organised a series of events to promote the campaigns and its key messages. Social Media also played a large part in the campaign. To reach out to a younger segment and to create a social media storm, a half day seminar for 38 young bloggers was organised.

Ane-Kirstine Bagger Birnbaum who is a National Program Officer for the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda said “The young bloggers’ seminar was a collaboration with a youth-led organisation called Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU). I had worked with them at my previous workplace and approached them to see if they could help me get a good group of young bloggers. RAHU works on advocacy in the area of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and are frequently experimenting with ‘alternative’ media channels – i.e. social media (storms, hackathons), pop music and arts, flash mobs, etc. They have a network of peer educators who have all been trained in issues of young people’s sexual and reproductive health. The young bloggers that participated were therefore familiar with the concepts of maternal health and the benefits of using midwifes and at the same time they fitted with the key message of making midwifery a career of choice for young people. In addition to the RAHU peer educators, I had also identified a few midwifery students to participate to ensure a balanced discussion. The bloggers not only created a social media storm (as a warm up to one of our campaign events), it also helped the Embassy establish a small pool of advocates / ambassadors for the campaign cause.”

The seminar attracted a lot of attention and reached 631,512 Twitter users. It was an innovative and cost effective way to reach a new audience as well as building capacity. In addition to the blogging event a total of 46 campaign related updates were posted on the Embassy’s Facebook page with a total of 1,059 likes and a reach of 71,494. Twitter was also used actively with a total of 263 tweets from the Embassy’s and the Ambassador’s official Twitter accounts.

I asked Ane-Kirstine what advice she would give to other development organisations who want to engage with policy makers about issues using social media. She gave me 5 tips:

 

  1. Have a clear strategy: Campaigning on social media is open to everybody and the social media channels are overflowing with different types of campaigns and drives. So a clear strategy of how to use social media and who to target is essential.
  2. Boost professionalism /credibility: Use evidence, make sure your campaign is contextualized.
  3. Be visual: Use lots of pictures, infographics and develop a logo or a poster / banner for your campaign – it doesn’t need to be expensive but makes a big difference
  4. Engage key advocates / stakeholders directly and ask them to take part in or support the campaign – this gives buy-in and makes you more credible
  5. Try to think out of the box: Use the information / commitments you’ve gathered strategically – hand them over to a policy maker, try to get them announced on radio, link your campaign up with a small event (debate, competition, etc)
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Social media for agricultural development actors

social-media-for-agriculture

A great new resource on social media can help agriculture in developing countries has just been produced by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). The publication ‘Embracing Web 2.0. and Social Media’ features case studies from Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Ghana, Samoa, Rwanda, Kenya and Trinidad and Tobago.

The case studies are the result of 120 training events in 37 African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries, where training was given to more than 3,500 people. The publication offers a range of examples of how Web 2.0. technologies and social media have contributed to policy dialogue and advocacy, value chain development and the provision of information services. These case studies include tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Skype as well as Wikis, blogs, discussion groups, the use of search engines and crowdfunding.

I was particularly interested in the Do Agric advocacy campaign which aimed (and succeeded to remind leaders that they had promised to commit 10% of budgets to agriculture. The petition was signed by more than 2.2 million people.

Another story that caught my eye was an NGO called the Women in Business Inc in Pacific Island State of Samoa. Through social media they have increased their e-commerce side of the business to sell indigenous products. Some of the finest traditional woven Samoan mats sell for around 2,290 Euros. Most of the initial enquiries about the mats are received via Facebook.

You can download the Embracing Web 2.0. and Social Media booklet from the CTA website.

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Social Media Lounge – Uganda

Today is the launch of the Social Media Lounge in Uganda, a place where enthusiasts can write and discuss freely and regularly about social media and its ever changing dynamics. The lounge is intended be a place to share and build a community together, a place where it will be possible to teach, to learn from each other, to mentor and also to create a singular point of focus for the social media conversation in Uganda going forward.

social-media-lounge-uganda-2

Collins Mugume one of the co-founders of the lounge said “We want to create a space where social media could be owned and grown in Uganda. To create a place to grow social media authorities who could become the pillars on which the industry could rely on, to guide and shape its growth.”

Colin Asimwe, co-founder added “Eventually, we are looking at getting to a place where social media is respected as a viable channel and an integral part of the communication mix instead of an esoteric amorphous black-hole into which clients and brands throw money and hope – merely hope, for a few likes and some interaction. When there is a market understanding of the social media landscape, an adequate growth in the resource pool and we can effectively measure it and can make predictions on trends – I think we will consider ourselves successful.”

I asked Collins, why they had decided to call in a lounge. “Despite what most people believe social media is first of all social; driven by interactions, human nature and conversations. It is as close to human conversations can get without physical presence. Lounges are a place of recline; people come there to relax from their troubled and beleagured lives. But also to regroup, replenish energies and and re-strategise. The lounge will be such place taking the industry’s best and making to tackle the challenges that will take Social to the next level.

What can members do?
Members can contribute to the social media conversation in Uganda by writing articles, insights, reviews and opinions on the landscape. They can be a part of formalising the social media agenda in Uganda by creating the environment which eventually will raise the standard of social media practice in Uganda.

The contributing community members so far include;

1. Maureen Agena
2. Bernard Olupot
3. Sam Agona
4. Grace Natabaalo
5. Onyait Odeke
6. Tusiime Samson
7. Patricia Kahill
8. Eunice Gnay Namirembe
9. Brain Kyeyune
10. Mujuni Raymond
11. Allan Ssenyonga
12. Olive Nakiyemba

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Reach A Hand, social media and the power of video

Whilst in Uganda last month I met with Patricia Kahill who has been working with the NGO Reach a Hand (RAHU) based in Kampala. RAHU is a non-profit youth led organisation that aims to address the key issues that leave Ugandan youth vulnerable to health outcomes like, HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancy. I have followed RAHU with great interest over the last few months as they are very active on social media. Their Twitter account has over 1250 followers and they have over 7400 likes on their Facebook page, which is very impressive for a small grassroots NGO.

At the Social Media Summit in Kampala, I predicted that video sharing sites such as YouTube will become much more popular in Uganda over the next 2-3 years. There is a noticeable and welcome increase in competition in the telecommunications industry in Uganda and mobile data prices are dropping. Smart Telecommunications for example are offering 1.5GB of data a day for the equivalent of 25 pence.

When I have viewed the YouTube channels of many small NGOs in developing countries before, the videos often have very few views. I think this is partly to do with content but mainly down to the cost of data. Will my prediction become true in the future? This is why RAHU is such a great case study as they have seen a dramatic growth in their YouTube channel in the last few months and musical content is the driver. A new ‘Musical Project’ is intended to inspire and encourage young people take care of their health by practicing safer sexual behaviour, making informed choices and choosing to be responsible citizens and make a change in their communities. RAHU are working with 9 local musicians GNL Zamba, Jody Phibi, Irene Ntale, Big Trill, Ray Signature, Maurice Hassa, Yasimine, Young Zee and Airport Taxi) and one international musician, Nyanda. Currently five songs have been promoted both online and via TV and radio stations. The artists endorsed the campaign by recording voice pops and messages that are aired during TV shows. It’s being supported by Rutgers WPF and Talent Africa. The Kaleke Kasome Remix featuring several of the above artists has had over 5000 views on YouTube.

A more recent recording “If it’s not on, It’s not safe’ has had over 3000 views in less than a month. Although there is a small advertising budget to promote these videos, it proves that good content does work as these videos have positive feedback in the form of both likes and comments. 

Another successful video project by RAHU involves a flash mob in Kisenyi which was organised in the build up to WorldAIDSDay. Once again this event caught the media’s attention and was featured on NTV.

However, Patricia says that Twitter is still the most important social media tool for RAHU as media houses often pick up on the most trending hashtags. She told me of an excellent campaign earlier this year which deliberately provoked a social media discussion around the age of consent. Patricia and another member of RAHU staff were training a group of 15 young people aged 20-30 about the benefits of using social media. During the workshop they demonstrated the power of Twitter by setting up the hashtag #consentat14. The age of consent in Uganda is currently 18 but teenage pregnancy is prevalent, so the group asked provocative questions such as ‘Have parents failed their children in education about safe sex’ and ‘Has the government failed in promoting contraception.” If there are so many teenage pregnancies, why not reduce the age of consent to 14. The hashtag had over 900,000 impressions and received interest from TV, Radio and newspapers including Urban TV and XFM.

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