‘’Social Media refers to internet services and mobile phone applications used for general dissemination, discussion of information in visual, audio, textual or pictorial formats’’. The information super highway has been manufactured to allow the human race to communicate and interact more effectively and efficiently, using electronic gadgets or gizmos.
The use of Social Media Channels in Botswana is still at an infant stage. The general populace has been using Social Media Channel in significant numbers for the past five to seven years. The use of Social Media Channels by the Botswana Government is recent and considerably limited. The government is however committed to full implementation The National E-Government Strategy 2011-2016 which will apparently integrate the use of Social Media Networks in governance. Currently a few departments within government ministries are using Facebook and Twitter.
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama is quoted in his foreword to The Working Paper on The National E-Government Strategy 2011-2016 as saying ‘’I will be a regular user of e-Government services. I encourage everyone to join me online.’’ I can therefore confirm to everyone that the president and a few of his ministers are either on Facebook or Twitter.
Why Social Media Channels are Important
Social Media Channels are important since they can be used to gather information from potential beneficiaries of services provided by the governments. Customers of government services are able to provide timely feedback to various service providers within government and even the private sector. Service providers are therefore able to evaluate their processes and come up with effective strategic decisions to overcome their challenges and become more innovateive.
Social Media Channels are also important socio-digital instruments as governments can easily and effectively gather information from potential suppliers. This can help in making it easy for procurement processes to take place.
The government can provide necessary information to potential suppliers. For instance the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) a parastatal organisation in Botswana can advertise and invite companies to bid for government tenders using Social Media Networks. Companies can respond to the invitations using the same media. Through the use of Social Media Networks, the government can easily disseminate information to its citizens. Government policy and announcement of important events and activities can be spread to the general public using various Social Media Channels.
Social Media Channels are important because they can promote participatory decision making processes. Members of the public can just log in to Facebook or any channel and present their issues for public debate. The government can therefore make policy decisions based on common issue raised by citizens through Social Media Channels. As a result of that inclusive decision making will be achieved.
The government can through the use of the Social Media Channels stay up to date and closer to the people. Electronic or digital social interaction reduces the void which exists between the common citizen and the leadership of the country. The government may as such be aware and as well understand the feelings, interests, expectations and aspirations of its people. Relevant and appropriate solutions to people’s problems might be implemented.
The other importance of Social Media Channels is that it create a conducive platform for sharing of knowledge among staff of the public service. This makes it easier for knowledge codification to take place within various organisations of the public service. In other words, Social Media Channels can help transform tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. Social Media can therefore create a value for the government’s intangible assets, more especially the human capital.
Since we live in a complex society, it is necessary to employ Social Media Channels in various aspects of life. When people interact digitally there will be a strong sense of belonging. A highly complex and cosmopolitan society in which we live can definitely be rendered microscopic in form and in substance.
This paper has indicated and confirmed that Social Media Channels are used by the government of Botswana. However the usage of this media is considerably limited and it is still at an infant stage. The paper has also affirmed that Social Media Channels are of fundamental significance, more especially in promoting good governance and improving service delivery within government. So governments and their citizens should adopt and fully utilise Social Media Channel in various spheres of life.” – Mpho Kasoka – Ghanzi, Botswana