Twitter ban: Business owners lament, risks loss of billions of naira investments




Following the ban on Twitter’s operation, Nigeria’s economy may have declined by billions of naira as many businesses which rely on Twitter to promote their services have been counting their losses three days after the federal government gave the directive.

On Tuesday 1st of June 2021, Twitter had deleted a post made by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, where he spoke about the civil war experience and threatened to deal with those bent on destroying Nigeria through insurrection.

In retaliation, the federal government on Friday suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

According to recent data from Statista, Twitter is the sixth most used social media platform in Nigeria. As of Q3 2020, the micro-blogging site has about 17.19 million users in Nigeria, accounting for 61.4 percent of the total social media users in the country.

Investigations by Blueprint shows that data computed by Netblocks.org, a mapping internet freedom platform, shutting down Twitter operations in Nigeria may have cost Nigeria’s economy about N2,177,089 in the first day of the crisis.

It would be recalled that Nigeria’s foreign investors withdrew N39.05bn in February, up from N30.79bn in January, while foreign outflow fell to N9.82bn in April from N20.28bn in March.

In the space of two months, the total amount of foreign transactions decreased by 31.05 percent from N40.64bn (about $99.70m) in March to N28.02bn (about $68.31m) in April. Additionally, analysts said the total value of foreign involvement in April was the lowest in four years.

From the foregoing, the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is but one of the series of negative messages Nigeria is sending to foreign investors and the international community at large with costly consequences.

According to Steve Babaeko, an advertising and music executive founder of X3M Ideas, a chunk of media spend happens on Twitter, the media agencies and digital agencies would also lose money.

“Unemployment among the youth segment currently stands at about 35 percent, depending on which state of the Federation you are looking at, the Crypto and Twitter ban will only exacerbate the unemployment situation. An idle hand they say is the Devil’s workshop.

“Finally the ban will be of little or no effect since most people have simply downloaded VPN to skirt around the ban. If that’s the case, then I don’t think this head bump with Twitter is worth further depressing our already fragile economy over,” he added.

Also reacting to the ban, a popular ICT outfit in Lagos who craved anonymity said it has lost huge revenue since the morning its Twitter handle stopped working, because most of the company’s activities come through Twitter.

“Most of our orders come through Twitter. It appears a more reliable and respectable platform for some of our high profile customers to order what they want. If you even escalate the loss to all our outlets across the country, you can see it is unquantifiable; and we are just talking of two days. A quick resolution is needed if this country will continue to be known as a business destination” he added.

Similarly, many others, including mobile phone sales and services outlets and value added services provision firms decry the impacts of the suspension, praying that the government reverses it.

An Ikeja-based ICT company based in Ikeja, ICT Solutions, said suspending Twitter is not a big issue if there were alternative platforms but doing so purely on sentimental reasons will crush the economy.

“Twitter is one of the easiest and convenient ways of doing the back and forth in this genre of service provision. Since morning it looks as if we are mourning. It looks as if we are starting afresh. What kind of thing is this? Meanwhile, Twitter is not even most affected, because most of the adverts that give it revenue are not from here. I think we should think things through before doing them” he added.

Meanwhile, Aprameya Radhakrishna, CEO of Indian social media startup, Koo, says his company eyes expanding operations in Nigeria following the recent Twitter ban and adds that they are planning on enabling functions including local Nigerian languages.

He disclosed this in a tweet at the weekend in company of the co-founder, Mayank Bidawatka who reiterated the same in a report by Times of India.

“Nigeria is similar to India in terms of language diversity. It has hundreds of regional languages. Koo has a global outlook and will definitely enable micro-blogging in countries that need it the most. We have built a scalable platform and while we are still enhancing the product, it’s already available for use in multiple countries today.”

Related content you may like