The AP team of chief photographer for Africa Jerome Delay, video journalist Josphat Kasire, freelance video journalist Joseph Mwihia and Uganda correspondent Rodney Muhumza used journalistic savvy and resourcefulness to overcome both an internet ban and AP’s competitors to deliver outstanding all-formats coverage of Uganda’s Jan. 14 presidential election.
Uganda had gone to great lengths to discourage international observation of the polls. Just getting into the country with sensitive broadcast equipment required driving into the country at a less-policed border point to reach Kampala, carrying the all-important live gear.
And Uganda was widely expected to cut its internet on election day. When it did, Muhumza was unfazed, having wisely filed comprehensive advance copy to colleagues outside the country. He updates with key quotes and details sent by text message.
Despite the internet cut, the video team of Kasire and Mwihia noticed that international roaming data was still working. They promptly switched all the SIM cards in their LiveU unit to roaming cards, allowing them to deliver an incredible four-hours of agency-exclusive live video showing polls opening and heightened security. Authorities eventually got wise and cut off roaming data too.
Meanwhile, Delay’s decision to rent a vehicle with black-tinted windows also paid off, allowing him to move around the capital to make compelling photographs of security forces without drawing unnecessary attention.
Ultimately, the team used its local contacts and managed to negotiate their way into the heavily guarded state broadcaster, where they continued to discreetly file developments via state TV’s still operational fast internet — an enormous edge over our competitors, who relied on much slower communications. That success continued through the polling day and over the days that followed. The final triumph was to patch and broadcast, live and exclusive, a clean feed of President Museveni's national address on his win.