Expert urges governments to help young people make money from social media


African governments are sitting on a lot of information that would help young people use social media to earn money, an expert has said.

Mr. John Omo, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), said that many governments are only focused on gagging young people on microblogging sites and failing to help them monetize content.

“Governments need policies that allow young people to generate social media content that helps them generate income. Governments should build a supportive pipeline (infrastructure and environment) while young people manage the water (monetized content) flowing through it,” Omo said.

He added, “Young people can make animations, applications, etc. Who, for example, has data on traffic management in Kampala, who knows details about load shedding, water supply, business opportunities, climate change, etc. Is it the government? Sharing such information can enable those who use social media to earn a living,” he said.

As unemployment soars, social media has the potential to boost incomes for the younger generation, who spend a good portion of their time online every day. Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world and the majority are unemployed.

According to Hamburg, a Germany-based research department of Statista, the number of social media users is expected to grow to around 4.41 billion in 2025.

Omo was speaking at the Ministerial Forum on Developing Africa’s Digital Economy, hosted by the ATU and Huawei Technologies ahead of the week-long annual AfricaCom Technology Conference which kicked off Monday in Cape Town, Africa from South.

Mr Omo said that many people consume content on social media rather than generating it, but many who generate it do not even profit from it.

Dr Chris Baryomunsi, Minister for ICT and National Guidance, who was part of the panel that discussed Africa’s technological future, said his ministry was working on plans to facilitate access to technology. information and with a focus on revenue generation.

“Our governments have inherited colonial systems and the laws sometimes do not allow information sharing. A lot of information is in government departments but the laws only allow certain technocrats to release that information, that’s why it’s not always smooth, but the Access to Information Act fixes that,” did he declare.

The right of access to information is enshrined in Article 41 of the Constitution (1995), which states: “Every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State or any other organ of the State, unless disclosure of the information is likely to infringe national security or the privacy rights of others”.

Uganda has one of the most expensive websites in the region and restrictions on social media, especially Facebook, which has been shut down since January 2021. This is undermining the hopes of young people to thrive on social media.

In 2020, the price of 1 GB in Tanzania averaged 73 US cents, followed by Kenya ($1.05), Rwanda ($1.48), Uganda ($1.62), DR Congo ($1.94) and Burundi ($2.12).

In 2021, the average price increased slightly to 75 US cents in Tanzania. Rwanda ($1.25), Uganda ($1.56), Burundi ($2.10), Kenya ($2.25) and DR Congo ($2.88).

Dr Baryomunsi said they were working to cut costs.
An estimated 2.8 million Ugandans are on social media, with around 60% of the population having mobile phone connectivity.

Some Ugandans have read wrongdoing in the computer misuse law approved by President Museveni on September 8. They say the amended law seeks to gag Internet users.

The law introduces punitive measures against Internet users who send “malicious and unsolicited information”, as well as share information about children without the consent of their parents or guardians. Section 23(A) of the Act creates the offense of hate speech, which includes writing, sending or sharing any information through a computer that is likely to ridicule, degrade or to belittle another person, group of people, tribe, race, religion, or gender. If found guilty, he faces seven years in prison or a fine of 10 million shillings.

The conversation comes amid a growing number of ‘social media influencers’ around the world.
The jargon has sprouted from individuals who typically use their large social media following to promote and market products, brands, issues of particular interest to their followers and manage perceptions for a fee.

They do this by regularly posting about these assignments, sharing photos, video clips, news, and special viewpoints to followers eager to consume content on their favorite social media platforms.

Some of the sites used by influencers include Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp.
Common influencers include footballers, musicians, athletes, journalists and bloggers.

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