In recent years Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, has become Africa’s most attractive tech hub for investors. But that could be imperiled by the government’s decision to suspend Twitter’s operations in the country.
In recent years Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, has become Africa’s most attractive tech hub for investors. But that could be imperiled if the government decides to ban other important social media handles just as they had banned twitter in the country.
Although no direct connection has been drawn, the ban came two days after Twitter took down a tweet by president Muhammadu Buhari. Twitter claimed the message had been deleted because it violated its rules against “abusive behavior.” The ban could be in retaliation.
A new chill entered into the relationship between Nigeria and Twitter in mid-April when the social media platform chose Ghana for its regional headquarters. Nigeria’s market is bigger than Ghana’s, with more Twitter users than Ghana has citizens. Ghana won because its government has created an attractive environment for external investors by improving the country’s electricity output, and investing in good roads and a paperless port project.
Nevertheless, Nigeria’s fledgling technology sector had been seen as an attractive proposition to investors because of the pool of talent in Nigeria, increasing smartphone penetration, and access to the Nigerian market of 200 million people.
The Nigerian technology scene, concentrated in Lagos, is a recent and rare success story. One particular area of growth has been the financial technology (fintech) sector.
But the ban makes it difficult for the government to argue that it is friendly to technology enterprises. The Nigerian government has often called on foreign investors to invest in Nigerian technology start-ups and support Nigeria’s technology ecosystem.
For example, in 2016 Buhari hosted Mark Zuckerberg on the Facebook CEO’s first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. Facebook is set to open an office in the second quarter of 2021 in Lagos.
The indefinite Twitter suspension could prove to be a setback by spooking investors.