In the vibrant East African nation of Uganda, where the median age remains remarkably young and unemployment rates remain a significant challenge, the digital landscape is surprisingly active.
More Ugandans are watching videos on YouTube daily than reading news on traditional websites, a trend that demonstrates the considerable shift towards digital platforms.
However, the social media landscape has evolved since 2016, with new platforms gaining popularity. Let’s explore the most popular social media networks in Uganda in 2023.
From Facebook’s Ban to Twitter’s Triumph in Uganda
In previous years, Facebook was the leading social media platform in Uganda. However, due to a series of politically-charged events surrounding the general elections of 2021, this giant of social media faced a significant setback.
In an unprecedented move, the Ugandan government indefinitely suspended Facebook after it was accused of refusing to restore the Government of Uganda and NRM Online accounts.
Facebook clarified that these accounts were shut down due to their involvement in manipulating public debate ahead of the elections. This manipulation, termed ‘Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior’, involved the use of fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, impersonate users, and artificially amplify certain posts.
On the eve of the elections, the government temporarily blocked access to all social media platforms, even app stores, to stop downloads of VPNs. The internet was entirely shut down on election day, allegedly in the interest of national security. While the internet, social media, and access to app stores were later restored after a 28-day suspension, Facebook remains blocked indefinitely.
In response, many Ugandans have turned to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access Facebook. While this workaround has allowed continued use of the platform, it has significantly impacted Facebook’s ranking as the IP addresses of users point to other countries.
Further complications arose with the introduction of a new 12% tax on mobile data in July 2021, replacing the previously unpopular Over The Top (OTT) tax. As a result, Facebook has seen a considerable drop in its status as the most used social media platform in Uganda.
In the aftermath of the Facebook ban, Twitter had a significant surge in popularity. As the platform remains accessible without the need for VPNs, it has become a go-to platform for social networking, news, and public debate. Despite its past smaller user base, it has now taken over Facebook in usage in Uganda.
YouTube Maintains Its Strong Hold in Uganda
Despite economic hardships, YouTube’s popularity has only surged, with Ugandans turning to this platform for education, news, entertainment, and even entrepreneurship. Live streaming and video sharing have become more common with media houses, celebrities, and corporate organizations, turning YouTube into a vital resource for professional and leisurely purposes. It is also instrumental in spotlighting local talent to global audiences, as with Eddy Kenzo and many others.
The Power of TikTok: Uganda’s Top Influencers
TikTok has skyrocketed in popularity since its launch. This video-sharing social networking platform, famed for its short-form videos, is especially popular among the younger demographic. Ugandans use TikTok for entertainment, education, activism, and it has also opened doors for creative individuals to reach global audiences.
Sheilah Gashumba: Known for her career as a TV host, Sheilah has leveraged her fame to become a popular TikTok influencer, sharing lifestyle content and entertaining videos.
McPallaso: A Ugandan musician who has successfully transitioned into the TikTok world, sharing music, dance, and personal videos.
Spice Diana (below): This successful Ugandan musician is also an active TikTok user, sharing music videos and engaging with fans on the platform.
These are just a few examples of the many talented TikTok influencers from Uganda. The TikTok platform is dynamic, and new influencers emerge regularly, so it’s worth exploring the app to discover more content creators and influencers based on your specific interests.
Main Photo: Eddy Kenzo By Jiame Josh - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=108315811