And now, a group of traders are threatening to sue the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) if it does not reopen Facebook within two weeks.
Why? The notice states that the traders have lost approximately 3,874,000 clients who were active Facebook subscribers in Uganda at the time of the closure, along with 2.9 billion potential clients in the global market.
Per Luyimbazi Nalukoola, the lawyer representing the traders, the continued closure of Facebook has resulted in significant financial losses for its members, estimated at around UGX 66 billion ($17.5 million), it also extends to their supply chain, affecting 650 boda bodas, 88 lorries and pickups, and 180 taxis.
ICYMI: Facebook shutdown a network of accounts linked to Uganda’s information ministry in January 2021, accusing them of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in the public debate ahead of the country’s 2021 presidential election. The Ugandan government responded by shutting down all social media sites and blocked access to the internet on January 13, 2021, one day before the presidential elections. However, it restored access to the internet and other social media platforms on January 18, 2021, but Facebook remained blocked.
Ugandans now use VPNs to access Facebook, while many have stopped using the platform altogether.
The big picture: Social commerce in Africa and the Middle East is projected to reach $41.9 billion by 2028, and already, 67% of traders across many African countries are using social media for their businesses. Platforms like Facebook help traders sell more, so it’s understandable why these Ugandan traders are ready to fight. But will the Museveni-led governement—which has often been accused of using oppressive means to stifle opposition—settle this amicable?