LeO Africa Institute Founder and former Director of the Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC) Mr. Awel Uwihanganye has criticized big tech companies such as Facebook for doing business unchecked in the country and meddling in the nation’s sovereignty.
Uwihanganye, who was appearing on Day 1 of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Uganda and South Sudan sixth (6th) edition of the Uganda Social Media Conference criticized Facebook for blocking Ugandan accounts during the 2021 General Elections.
Clarifying that he did not support the ban on Facebook that was effected by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) after NRM leaning supporters were suspended permanently off the platform, Uwihanganye said he understood the authorities that blocked the platform. Among the suspended were his then deputy Mr. Duncan Abigaba and Ashburg Katto.
“I don’t support the Facebook ban. If it were up to me, I would not have blocked the platform in Uganda but I understand the frustration of the authorities that did. You cannot be in the middle of an election and you hear that your supporters have been suspended off a platform for no explainable reason.” Uwihanganye said at the conference.
This was during the discussion on the topic of “Digital Diplomacy: The rise of algorithms and implications for big tech in African Institutions” that also featured Ms Neema Iyer, the founder of Pollicy. Ms Iyer was recently appointed to the Facebook Advisory Board on Women Affairs.
Uwihanganye, who has since moved to LeO Africa Institute also raised concerns of the way multi-national tech companies are harvesting chunks of money from Uganda that all goes untaxed.
“Look at Netflix for instance, every month – a section of Ugandans pay up to USD 12 to the company and none of that is subject to tax. These taxes would be helping the nation transform and prosper.” He said.
According to him, these big tech companies need to sit with African governments and craft out proper understanding mechanisms for mutual benefit.
“The discussion on policy & regulations of digital platforms has to take centre stage so that our generation can be able to utilize the platforms and upscale their business ideas.” Uwihanganye said.