Ugandan Govt Faces Two-Week Ultimatum to Restore Facebook or Legal Action Looms

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. PHOTO/FILE

Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | A consortium of traders operating under the Urban Smart Traders Business Association Limited has issued a legal ultimatum to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). If the government does not reopen Facebook within two weeks, they will pursue legal action. The law firm Nalukoola Advocates & Solicitors represents the association, and they have sent a notice of their intent to sue the UCC regarding the Facebook closure.

This association is comprised of 550 registered members engaged in online trading through platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, TikTok, e-commerce websites, and other online marketplaces. Facebook was a primary tool for their e-marketing and trade activities until its closure on January 12, 2021.

The closure of Facebook has led to significant financial losses for the association, impacting not only their 3,874,000 Ugandan clients but also potential clients in the global market, estimated at 2,989,000,000. The financial losses are estimated at around 66 billion Ugandan Shillings, affecting various aspects of the supply chain, including 650 boda bodas, 88 lorries and pickups, and 180 taxis.

To cope with the Facebook closure, some members resorted to local online marketplace websites, incurring much higher fees compared to Facebook. This resulted in a loss of approximately 18 million Shillings in subscription fees alone.

The traders are now seeking legal action to address the repercussions of the Facebook closure and the subsequent financial losses they have incurred. Despite the initial reason for the shutdown being concerns over misuse during the 2021 general election, Facebook has remained inaccessible. Many Ugandans are now using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access the platform, but this comes with extra costs, and some have completely abandoned Facebook.

In 2022, President Museveni commented on the situation, stating that Uganda can thrive without Facebook. However, the traders are concerned that the continued closure of Facebook is adversely affecting the country’s digital markets.

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