Eight million people use MTN Uganda, making it the country's undisputed mobile telecom giant. According to Chimpreports.com, customers have grumbled for years about unreasonable extra charges and unexplained reductions in service. For a long time, these complaints fell on deaf ears.
Earlier this month, however, Ugandans decided to pool their influence and launch a hashtag campaign against MTN.
This week starting tomorrow 17th Nov 2014, we are going to officially hand in our dissatisfaction note and complaint to the Minister of ICT Hon George William Nyombi Thembo at his office on Parliament Avenue,” announced Justus Amanya who is leading efforts to pressure government to crack down on MTN’s “undemocratic and 24/7 robbery.
A staff blogger at Willappsug, a technology blog, summarised MTN customers’ anger as follows:
It is believed that Uganda is falling victim to multinational corporations who are now controlling politicians, media, government officials and pattern of consumption thus the misconduct of such big brands.
Ugandans who have always complained about the country’s leading Telecom Company, MTN Uganda, of charging their humble customers abnormal rates and unjustifiably deducting their airtime and internet bundles through Justus Amanya who is leading the protests for the government to crack down on MTN’s undemocratic exploitation have come out to say “This week, we are going to officially hand in our dissatisfaction note and complaint to the Minister of ICT Hon George William Nyombi Thembo at his office on Parliament Avenue.”
On Twitter, one Kampala resident asked:
— Agaba Emma♚ (@ArcherSeamus) November 17, 2014
Qwenga, a blogger and public relations professional, noted the horrible publicity this campaign makes for MTN:
PR Nightmare >>>>> #OccupyMTN
— Qwenga (@bkyeyune) November 17, 2014
Samson Tumusiime, a social media manager and co-founder of Veritas Interactive, had no kind words for the telecom:
What's the point of splashing billions on CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] and events when you can't spend just a fraction of that on R&D? [Reasearch and Development] #OccupyMTN — (Name Goes Here) (@Samwyri) November 17, 2014
Bob Muheebwa, meanwhile, simply wanted his money back:
Yes they must refund #occupymtn RT “@sbadnose: @MTNUGANDACARE I have not given up on my money, even if u ignore me. I want my money!!!” — Bob Muheebwa (@tijo5) December 10, 2012 Hot Kitakuli to emphasize the point said
Others online turned there minds to larger questions. Mwine Edgar, a political commentator, floated a conspiracy theory, for instance:
MTN must have paid UMEME [Uganda's electricity company] to loadshed my area so that I can run out of battery and stop tweeting about MTN's poor services #OccupyMTN — Mwine (@mwineedgar) November 17, 2014
The ranting from dissatisfied customers goes on:
“Sorry Operation Is Failed” should be MTN's new slogan. #OccupyMTN
— hot kitakuli (@thedewjosh) November 17, 2014
There were some voices of support for MTN, however. Akampa Aaron, one apparently satisfied customer, had some kind, albeit brief, words for the corporation:
This outrage at @mtnug is unfair. Their network quality has greatly improved, mobile money is much better, and they have free calls now.
— Akampa Aaron (@akampaaaron) November 17, 2014