18 July 2018

Rwandans Drove Conversations on 2017 Elections, Study Shows

Conversations, deliberations and debates on social media around Rwanda's election last year had minimal influence from outside the country compared to other African countries.

This is according to a new study by Portland Communications, a United Kingdom based firm.

The study dubbed "How Africa Tweets" largely focused on social media trends and consequence influence during the election period.

The study showed that unlike other elections, conversations on the elections on twitter were dominated by local influencers.

"Journalists and news organisations were the leading influencers, accounting for 34 per cent of influential handles... ..Rwanda was also one of the few countries where local influencers drove the debate, with 77 per cent of influential accounts based in the country. Of the journalists and news organisations identified as influencers, 77 per cent were based in Rwanda," the report read in part.

The report also considered nine other countries that had elections in the same year including Kenya, Senegal, Lesotho, Angola, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt and Somaliland.

In Rwanda, the data was collected between 4 June and 18 August 2017.

The findings show that the deliberations online during the period were largely around President Paul Kagame.

"Topics discussed included, the president's track-record and his inauguration. Rwanda's bilateral relationships and trade also featured prominently," the report further read.

The New Times publication featured among the top accounts during the period, while the entity's journalist Athan Tashobya also ranked among the top influencers.

Why it matters:

Across the world, recent elections have often been manipulated by external countries with some 'influencers' relying on fake news, falsehoods and propaganda.

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