Creative Ugandans seek to earn more from their creative content, on realization that social media can be a way to prosperity and not just social interaction.
While there are many platforms, for Ugandans, the most common are Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, while the majority of smartphone holders are subscribers to messaging app WhatsApp.
At least 14 million Ugandans are connected to mobile internet, while the devices connected to broadband are estimated at 23.7 million, according to a report by the Uganda Communications Commission for the period ending June 2022.
Of these, between four and six million are social media users. Now, a group of ‘social media influencers seek to have their voices heard better by policymakers, their visibility enhanced and their earnings increased.
Aida Agwang, a content creator and social media influencer, who is mobilizing her scattered peers and prospective online entrepreneurs, says Ugandans are not ably taking advantage of the available resources.
Agwang says the best example for young creative Ugandans should be the Masaka Africana Kids, a creative dance group of young girls and boys in Masaka, whose YouTube account last year made 3 million subscribers, earning them about 5 billion Shillings.
Agwang, also a communication and consultant in East Africa says that it is unfortunate that Ugandans have not yet taken social media as important as they should.
These include both ordinary citizens and policymakers. She says that it is unfortunate that social media is still looked at as a tool for social interaction, yet its power has been seen in the collapse of companies and even regime changes in different countries.
This, according to her should be turned into an advantage by the government and creative content producers for economic and social development.
Agwang and Chris Lutanga are leading the campaign to mobilize, support and develop young Ugandan content creators, under the project dubbed Collaboration 360 and managed by the marketing agency, Sweep Uganda.
The project targets artists, Poets, Musicians, Filmmakers, Photographers, Fashion Designers, Gamers, Advertisers, and other Content Makers, according to Lutanga.
Sweep Uganda’s Chris Lutanga noted that they want to create an environment where creative persons can feel they belong because currently, they are not known, unlike other sectors which have representative agencies.
The Masaka kids project that targets disadvantaged talented children has been producing dance videos and songs some of which have attracted as many as 139 million views in less than four years, making them one of the hottest Ugandan YouTubers.
Most content creators on social media like YouTube and TikTok earn money by basically growing subscriber and viewership numbers. The more subscribers and viewers, the higher the chances that a channel will attract advertisers and downloads, and the resultant revenues are shared between the owner of the platform and the owner of the account.
Lutanga says that unfortunately, many Ugandans are yet to find out how much talent they have and how it can earn them a living.
One young woman, Rita Amanyire is upbeat that soon she will start earning from YouTube as she moves towards meeting the requirements. Amanyire is a travel blogger and uses audiovisual content to market Uganda and other African countries to tourists.
She encourages content creators and social media lovers to take their talents seriously because even the simple things they do and post for fun take a lot out of them and should earn them a living.
On YouTube, for example, content creators can join the YouTube Partner program after accumulating 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time over the last 12 months, to start being paid per view.
The average YouTube channel can receive around 18 dollars (65,000 shillings) per 1,000 ad views, which equals between 3 and 5 per video view, according to data from Influencer Marketing Hub.
However, for the content to earn the owner, the viewer must click on or watch the advert posted over the video, so the number of views one gets does not necessarily correlate to the revenue earned.
“If your video gets thousands of views but no one watches or clicks the ad, you won’t make any money. This is because of YouTube’s criteria for billing advertisers: a viewer must click an ad or watch the video ad in full (10, 15, or 30 seconds) for you to get paid,” writes Braveen Kumar in the blog Shopify.
However, Agwang says that for the Ugandan creatives industry to benefit from social media at the desired level, there are many challenges, including internet policy, internet costs, and electricity supply stability that the government must work on.
Contacted for a comment, Amina Zawedde, the Permanent Secretary and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology admitted that the internet in Uganda is still very expensive. She however says there are several interventions being put in place including signing deals with internet service providers on how to lower the costs.
Experts say that while choosing from the various product on the platforms, one should have in mind the like consumers of their content.
For example, researches show that while the YouTube subscriber structure cuts across ages between 25 and 50, the majority of TikTok users (62 percent) are below 30 years, and a third are below 20.