Nigeria’s decision to suspend Twitter, at first indefinitely but later temporarily, could backfire for the government and cost the country economically in terms of new investment into its technology sector. The ban may threaten Nigeria’s status as one of the best-performing African countries in attracting investment for technology start-up businesses.
The suspension of Twitter, a leading micro-blogging platform, has begun to take its toll on struggling Nigeria’s economy, leading to a loss of N7.5 billion in the past three days.
While only a minority of Nigerians, about 40 million, use Twitter, they form part of the most vocal and politically active segment of the population. Many young people have used Twitter and other social media apps recently to organise anti-government protests.
This was evidenced with last year’s #EndSARS protests, a movement against police brutality. The potential that social media could help mobilise such a large youth-driven campaign sent shudders throughout the ruling establishment, especially as momentum is building with public discontent against rising insecurity.
A 2020 survey by the independent, Africa-based research organisation, Afrobarometer, found that: 35 per cent of Nigerians reported using some social media service to get news few times a week. Men were marginally more likely to use it than women – 39 per cent versus 31 per cent. Also, more young people used it – 46 per cent of 18-25 years old, versus eight per cent for those over 65. Rates of weekly access were higher for Nigerians who lived in urban areas, 54 per cent, versus 18 per cent for rural dwellers.