Political parties in Cameroon have turned to social media to effectively woo more voters and even target the undecided ones ahead of the October 7 presidential polls.
Opposition Presidential candidate Joshua Osih of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) is using his new internet based campaign to reach more Cameroonians.
At his campaign headquarters, a team of volunteers work to update his social media networks.
“You have a poll that looks at the campaign strategy, which also defines the strategy and planning. You have a poll that looks at all social media activities and in this case it means, tracking all information and news that is released on the candidate on all social media platforms. You have a poll that looks at marketing as well as e-mails that are sent to potential voters. Today, we have sent over 1 million e-mails,” said Patrick Tomi, the social media manager for Joshua Osih’s campaign.
Politicians are already engaging in online chats with supporters to answer potential voter’s questions and many youth are also using the platform to show support or argue out their views, as well as easily keep track of their politicians online.
“You know, today, social media is the main source for news. So even for us, we have to give it 100 percent, and ensure that young people can see what our candidate is doing. For the last seven years, since his victory in 2011, we have had one goal and it’s to see him (Paul Biya) win the elections in 2018,” said Jacob Kiari, President of the youth wing of the ruling party People’s Democratic Movement (RDPC).
Internet connectivity has significantly improved in Cameroon, allowing politicians to increase their presence online and better engage with voters. Analysts say social media plays a significant role in politics and in Cameroon, it’s expected to be an important tool in the October 7th poll.
“What encouraged the various candidates to also campaign on social networks was the increase in Internet penetration in Cameroon. Internet penetration has increased from 11% in 2015 to 21% in 2016 and now stands at 25% on average,” said Anyia.
But being popular on social media networks does not necessarily guarantee victory in the presidential election. Opinion polls suggest that President Paul Biya is still the favourite to win the upcoming polls despite his unpopularity amongst the electorates.