Youth in Uganda push for digital diplomacy

President Yoweri Museveni and NRM youths/ STATE HOUSE UGANDA

A section of Ugandan youths have asked President Yoweri Museveni to appoint a custodian for digital diplomacy.

Duncan Abigaba, the Deputy director of the Government Citizens Interaction Centre, requested President Museveni to look into the possibility of appointing someone to cater for digital diplomacy for the country.

“Some countries have already done this, we need someone who will handle digital diplomacy on our behalf,” Abigaga said on Saturday when he led other youths who campaigned for the relection of Museveni to pay a courtesy call to the President.

Some of the countries that have appointed digital chiefs include Germany, France and the UK, which have created a post of Digitization secretary,

Digital diplomacy involves the use of digital technologies and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Weibo by states to enter into communication with foreign publics usually in a non-costly manner.

Since the US adoption of digital diplomacy countries have followed suit, including conservatist states such as China. Other powerful states such as Russia are also using social media as a diplomatic tool.

Ilan Manor, a digital diplomacy scholar at the University of Oxford, writes that digital diplomacy may enable African nations to manage their global image, increase their media visibility, attract foreign direct investments and enhance their soft power.

Manor says the high media profile of President Barack Obama’s visit, which was part of the 2015 Global Entrepreneurial Summit, generated a growing interest in Kenya.

At the same meeting, President Museveni lashed out at Facebook over limitation of access to the platform, saying it will not stop the most important things from happening in Uganda.

He castigated the tech giants for acting with bias against the NRM and its people.

“They deleted our people’s accounts under the guise, but we can see the bias, the discrimination standards they used. You cannot say that these were doing wrong, what about the other group that have been spreading all forms of wrong information and inciting our people? This is the reason why in some countries they are not allowed, do they operate in China? Anyway, what I heard is that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. I never heard that Facebook fits in same category,” President Museveni said.

In January, Facebook shut a slew of accounts belonging to Ugandan government officials and supporters claiming that they sort to manipulate public debate ahead of elections.

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