The Rwandan community on Twitter has been growing fast over the last few years.
While 26 percent of Rwanda’s population can access the internet, a growing number is using Twitter, to get their voices heard, especially when poor service has been rendered.
Twitter has been picking up as a key communication channel due to shared information and official statements announced by public officials and authorities.
Progressively, and most especially during this era of Covid-19, Rwandans have learnt to look to Twitter for top government official communication, be it decisions made in cabinet meetings, or the daily updates from the Ministry of Health regarding the virus.
The change has not been only limited to Rwanda but also globally; in 2018, 481,000 tweets would be made in one minute, today, 194,000 people tweet every minute.
Rwandans being part of the trend, President Paul Kagame is the most followed Rwandan on Twitter with two million followers and was recently named among the most conversational leaders on the micro-blogging platform globally.
This article ranks the most followed and active district mayors in Rwanda.
Richard Mutabazi, Mayor of Bugesera District
Although Mutabazi is not the most followed mayor, he has managed to pick tweeps' interest with his content that mostly include sport, his family, food and entertainment.
An avid basketball fanatic, Mutabazi is the most active mayor.
He joined Twitter in 2015. Apart from socializing with family and friends, Mutabazi told The New Times that he uses Twitter to engage and exchange with his constituency with a boundless audience, therefore identifying complaints and grievances just online.
Asked whether he finds it necessary for a mayor to actively use social media, he replied "Yes. Twitter updates us with timely information, communiqués and world trend. Why would a mayor be the last to know things? Using social media for both work and private life helps to keep the balance."
Recent tweets per week: 11
Retweet ratio: 5 percent
Pudence Rubingisa, Mayor of City Kigali
City Mayor Rubingisa is the most followed mayor on Twitter. He joined the platform in 2013.
Rubingisa told this publication that regardless of his heavy and hectic duties, he checks Twitter regularly.
“It is mainly when I am between meetings or when I get an opening on my daily agenda."
He added: "As a Mayor of the City of Kigali, I am in charge of serving and leading people. And through Twitter, we get to communicate and also get feedback from the people.
It is therefore very important for me to engage on social media and I would wish to do it more often if my work schedules allow."
Recent tweets per week: 4.5
Retweet ratio: 69 percent
Ange Sebutege, Mayor, Huye District
Sebutege joined Twitter in 2011. His content is mostly about the life of Huye district, events and pictures.
Coming from a communication background, Sebutege probably understands better the importance of social media in delivery of service.
Recent tweets per week: 20
Retweet ratio: 84 percent
François Habitegeko, Mayor of Nyaruguru
Francois Habitegeko has been a Mayor in Nyaruguru since 2011. He joined Twitter in 2019.
Recent tweets per week: 45
Retweet ratio: 80 percent
Emmanuel Kayiranga, Mayor of Rulindo District
Kayiranga has been on Twitter for eight years. He mostly tweets about what is happening in Rulindo and uses pictures very often.
Recent Tweets per week: 4.2
Retweet ratio: 29 percent
What they say about local leaders embracing social media
Janvier Nshimyumukiza (journalist)
As digital technology advances, many new social networks for people that are created. Today, people can meet and interact without necessarily meeting. Some social media networks are even bigger than traditional networks.
This proves how basic social media is and why local leaders need to also be part of it.
Robert Cyubahiro Mackenna (media personality and social media influencer)
Social media has become part of mass media tool, if you are a local leader leading the mass you definitely need to be familiar with the use of social media platforms.
Local leaders should be informed before they inform their citizens and using social media is likely going to help them in become informed and use them to inform the masses. We, however, should not forget the rise of fake news as well.
Juliette Karitanyi (gender equality activist and social media enthusiast)
I do not think local leaders are necessarily obliged to use social media because most people that they serve are not even on social media.
You will find that Twitter, for instance, has been taken as a platform for political issues. I think local leaders should be more present to the people they serve and solve their problems.
Fiona Kamikazi (communication practitioner and social media influencer)
I think all government officials have social media accounts, but they often use them merely as notice boards.
We need to look for more when it comes to engagement.
They need to learn to build trust with their constituents through social media by showing that they have heard, and are willing to respond or receive feedback on an online platform.Follow Ange_Iliza