Sunday Aghaeze/AFP through Getty Photos
Lately Lagos, Nigeria’s greatest metropolis, has develop into Africa’s most tasty tech hub for traders. However that may very well be imperilled by the federal government’s determination to droop Twitter’s operations within the nation.
Though no direct connection has been drawn, the ban got here two days after Twitter took down a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter claimed the message had been deleted as a result of it violated its guidelines in opposition to “abusive behaviour”. The ban may very well be in retaliation.
A brand new chill entered into the connection between Nigeria and Twitter in mid-April when the social media platform selected Ghana for its regional headquarters. Nigeria’s market is greater than Ghana’s, with extra Twitter customers than Ghana has residents. Ghana gained as a result of its authorities has created a sexy setting for exterior traders by bettering the nation’s electrical energy output, and investing in good roads and a paperless port mission.
However, Nigeria’s fledgling know-how sector had been seen as a sexy proposition to traders due to the pool of expertise in Nigeria, rising smartphone penetration and entry to the Nigerian market of 200 million individuals.
The Nigerian know-how scene, concentrated in Lagos, is a current and uncommon success story. One explicit space of development has been the monetary know-how (fintech) sector.
However the ban makes it troublesome for the federal government to argue that it’s pleasant to know-how enterprises. The Nigerian authorities has typically known as on overseas traders to put money into Nigerian know-how start-ups and assist Nigeria’s know-how ecosystem.
For instance, in 2016 Buhari hosted Mark Zuckerberg on the Fb CEO’s first go to to sub-Saharan Africa. Fb is ready to open an workplace within the second quarter of 2021 in Lagos.
The indefinite Twitter suspension may show to be a setback by spooking traders.
Tech begin ups
Nigeria’s monetary know-how (fintech) start-ups have begun to have interaction innovatively with segments of the inhabitants that may’t entry conventional monetary companies. About 56% of Nigerian adults are unbanked.
Homegrown companies Flutterwave and Paystack are two examples of fintech start-ups which have been in a position to safe investments just lately.
Flutterwave offers fee options for companies. It just lately attracted funding of US$170 million from a consortium of overseas traders. Paystack, which additionally offers fee options and buyer analytics, attracted US$200 million from US funds large Stripe.
The 2 start-ups just lately earned the coveted unicorn standing. It is a reference to privately held know-how start-up companies valued at greater than US$1 billion. Because of this Flutterwave and Paystack are already, on paper, extra useful than most of Nigeria’s greatest banks.
The suspension may make it more durable for know-how entrepreneurs like this to get funding. Know-how entrepreneurs will now have to persuade traders about regulatory dangers. This shall be particularly so if their enterprise fashions require an lively social media presence.
The Twitter ban will even scale back the publicity of Nigerian know-how entrepreneurs to the world, lowering their capacity to draw funding and develop their markets.
Lastly, it sits at odds with the federal government’s objective of financial development and openness by sending a sign that Nigeria will not be totally open for know-how enterprise.
Nigeria’s Twitter ban may backfire, hurting the financial system and democracy
Why social media issues to enterprise
Many small and medium enterprises in Nigeria use social media, together with Twitter, for advertising and marketing, pitching, attracting traders and reaching clients.
An instance of those are start-up know-how companies like Cowrywise, a financial savings and funding firm, and Piggyvest, a web based financial savings platform.
Not too way back, Cowrywise introduced it was elevating US$3 million in funding funding. One of many collaborating traders, Sahil Lavingia, tweeted that his funding dialog began through a Twitter direct message or “DM”. Lavingia is the founding father of Gumroad, a San Francisco primarily based on-line platform that facilitates the sale of merchandise by creators on to customers.
Lavingia invested within the Nigerian firm and posted on Twitter: “Excited to put money into one other African startup! The facility of Twitter”.
Excited to put money into one other African startup! The facility of Twitter 😍 https://t.co/obcDI1MWfE pic.twitter.com/rBBsn3gK5Z
— Sahil (@shl) January 28, 2021
Nigerian firms have additionally used social media to boost consciousness of their manufacturers. Some do that by means of “influencers” like the approach to life and leisure bloggers Linda Ikeji and Uche Eze Pedro, in addition to the music blogger Demola Ogundele of Notjustok.
Reconcile and de-escalate
Nigeria’s info minister, Lai Mohammed, criticised Twitter for “double requirements” as a result of the social media firm didn’t, till just lately, delete or flag inflammatory tweets by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the separatist group chief.
However, for my part, the Twitter ban appears to assist the notion that the Nigerian authorities doesn’t prefer to be held accountable for its actions and scrutinised when it falls brief. It reeks of censorship and is paying homage to non-democratic establishments. The president didn’t have to make use of the platform to air his views and will have been suggested that utilizing Twitter means being topic to its guidelines.
If the spat between the Nigerian authorities and Twitter will not be de-escalated, the nation’s thriving know-how sector will undergo. This at a time when Nigeria must faucet into know-how to deal with its socio-economic challenges. Chief amongst these is the pressing want to cut back its dependency on oil and enhance its infrastructure. Know-how may help with that.
Tolu Olarewaju doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.