Patricia Kahill sheds light on the continuing Facebook ban

Early this year, the internet was shut down during the tense election season as the government claimed that it was trying to take care of security threats that would use the internet. Social media platforms have since been restored except for one, Facebook.

Facebook with 840,000 subscribers is the most used social platform in Uganda. However, the ban on the app has taken its toll on people, affecting their businesses the most. Over the years, Facebook has made changes to its app to make it diverse making it quite favourable to run their businesses using the application.

Also read: E-commerce companies want ban on Facebook lifted in Uganda

With the current ban by the government, those who once relied on the application as a source of income have been cut off forcing them to find alternative ways to cope. We had a chat with Patricia Kahill, founder of Kahill Insights Company Limited a digital marketing agency. She shares her thoughts on the ongoing ban and its impact.

A chat with Patricia Kahill about the impact of the ban

The shutdown of Facebook in January must have had some devastating effects on people who relied on it for income. As a digital marketer, what toll has this had on you?

That I must switch on VPN for me access Facebook is a tall order that sometimes I even forget it is about that and end up blaming the internet providers. You see it was easy when everything was under one control VPN or OTT but no everything is under taxation, and one is blocked.

There is a decline in usage of the platform, people are being intention at using the platforms Facebook, and those who are not, do not dare open the app so long as the other platforms are working for them.

The adverts are not delivering as needed because Ugandans are not in the country but scattered all over the world online.

Do you think the government made a fair decision to shut down the platform for this long well-knowing how people have come to rely on it to earn?

It was not fair at all. It was a selfish decision just because their propaganda accounts were shut down.

What do you think made Facebook attractive to businesses and people as a source of income?

Facebook has more Uganda accounts than any other platform. It is the marketplace for online goods and services. Anyone selling anything would like a place that is frequented by people on a daily to make connections, interactions and engagements while building meaningful engagements.

Read also: Jumia Uganda CEO speaks out on effects of Uganda’s internet shutdown in 2021, describes them as devastating.

What lessons have you learnt from this as a digital marketer as you have been affected?

The original strategy will not work thus you have to be able to pivot fast and adapt to the current situation for a brand you are working on to stay afloat.

Assuming someone relied heavily on Facebook to make their money, are there any other platforms you can recommend that provide similar opportunities (e.g for a digital marketer) to the ones Facebook used to provide?

There are some but not on the same level as Facebook. Facebook is on another level with its audience segmentation and management tools. It’s an all round platform that uses any kind of content to engage and is not restrictive like others e.g Twitter with 280 characters, Instagram with a picture, YouTube with its videos only.

What do you think about the government’s suggestion to develop a platform of its own that is similar to Facebook?

It will never be like Facebook, popular and interactive with the tools it has. I believe the Uganda app will have a lot of censorship and purely the ruling government’s tool to control the narrative and conversations on the platform.

Apart from the business side of it, do you think this ban has affected digital penetration in any way?

In a way it has but also there are other components of digital penetration that are still at play like the internet with it is 12% taxes that every purchase has to incur. People will not be able to afford the new prices and with time they will drop off the internet grid. Not forgetting the low cash flow in the system that makes people focus mainly on what is necessary for them and their families to stay alive.

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