President Museveni has said Uganda will only allow Facebook to reopen in Uganda only if the social media platform stops “playing games.”
“ I hope now facebook knows who is in charge of Uganda. If they stop playing games, we shall open up,” Museveni said.
In the drive to the 2021 general election, government shut down facebook over abuse by users but the platform has since then never been reopened.
Ugandans currently access Facebook via Virtual Private Networks that seem expensive for them whereas many others have quit the social media platform.
However, addressing journalists at the State Lodge in Nakasero, the president said it all started when Facebook shut down several pro-government accounts.
“….because facebook are arrogant. They were being used to attack us and when our own people used it to answer back were shut up. That’s where battle started,” the president noted.
He said in a bid to show discontent, government had to shut facebook in Uganda.
“ If you don’t want the head of the home you show it by walking out .Facebook has now been chased.”
He added, “ Boda bodas are still moving, even taxis, matooke and milk are still coming. Everything is moving on well whereas facebook is still closed.”
The president however noted that if Facebook realizes its mistake, government will reopen it.
The Uganda communications Commission (UCC) recently said government is waiting on Facebook to resolve outstanding issues before it is fully reopened.
“On our side, we are waiting for Facebook. We talked [and] we concluded. So, the outstanding issues are on their side. As government, we are ready to have it come back as soon as they deliver on their promise,” Irene Kagwa, the UCC Executive Director told Daily Monitor recently.
Last year, President Museveni said Uganda is progressing well without Facebook.
“The other day I checked to see whether bananas are still being produced. I thought bananas would stop if facebook closed. I checked and I found cows are still milking and fish is still in the lake. We can exist without facebook. Those biased people should not bother us,” he said.
Last year, experts warned that the continued shutdown of Facebook in Uganda is having a toll on civic space and digital markets in the country.
“For a person who is using 100 mbs, who would may be browse for a day, using normal internet, currently uses VPN to browse Facebook for just like 2 or 3 hours, increasing the cost of internet in the country.”
These said that with VPNs, it is now close to impossible to target clients in digital campaigns on Facebook because of the shutdown.
“You cannot do targeted marketing anymore; users can not target the audience of Ugandans for a campaign. You can do that for clients elsewhere but not here.”
They said that some VPNs also allow users to use their servers in exchange for users data which puts Ugandans at risk.
Godwin Toko, a lawyer said that away from connecting people and doing business, Facebook is also used as a means of coordinating for civic engagements and blocking it limits such engagements.