But south of the Sahara, Internet penetration – the percentage of the population who use the Internet regularly – is still quite low. It’s just 6.4 percent in Gabon, compared with 21 percent in Egypt and 34 percent in Tunisia. A revolution organized by word of mouth is much easier to control than one that goes viral over Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and the text messages of cellphones.
In Uganda, national elections will be held on Feb. 18, with long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni widely expected to hold onto power. The runup to this election has been peaceful, thus far, but opposition candidate Kizza Besigye has warned Museveni’s ethnic group – the Banyankole – of a widespread anger among other ethnic groups who believe that Museveni has favored his own ethnic group to the exclusion of others.
Uganda has slightly better access to Internet than Gabon, with 9.6 percent of its 33 million people using the Internet regularly, and Ugandan journalists have a slightly stronger tradition of independent and critical coverage of their elected leaders. But experts like Sandra Adong Oder of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria say the regime of President Museveni has effectively neutralized opposition parties and politicized civil society groups, making it difficult for any latent anger to coalesce around any one particular opposition leader or party. (Good to have link to our Weekly story up on website to accompany this story).