Twitter ban will hurt Nigeria’s economy, says NESG
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group Tuesday said the “temporary” suspension of Twitter in the country will affect its economic recovery negatively.
Nigerian authorities suspended Twitter last week after the platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari it considered “abusive”.
But the government said it suspended the platform because of a “litany of problems”. The suspension, NESG said, will hurt small businesses and the inflow of foreign investments.
“At a difficult time like this, when Nigeria must grow its economy, plug into the global digital revolution, attract patient international capital and sustained foreign currency inflow to address our foreign exchange challenges, the temporary suspension of Twitter in Nigeria sends out a wrong signal and will stand in the way of our path to rapid economic recovery,” NESG said in a statement.
“In addition to the negative effect of the suspension on investments, small businesses that engage in digital trade will be gravely affected, raising further concerns on unemployment, poverty, insecurity, and our economy’s attractiveness.”
Already, small businesses that rely on Twitter to reach their audience are feeling the pinch. Banks, fintechs and other businesses have also suspended Twitter customer care support.
NetBlocks, a global internet monitor, said each hour of Twitter clampdown costs Nigeria about $250,000 (N102.5 million), bringing the daily loss to N2.5 billion.
“For many of these businesses, social media platforms have become a veritable tool for engaging existing and potential clients over the years,” NESG said.
“As a result, platforms like Twitter which has about 17 million active users in Nigeria, have become a community for businesses and clients to exchange ideas, share progress, and address complaints towards optimal service delivery.”
However, the authorities said they are already in talks with Twitter on the way forward.
“There are discussions ongoing with Twitter, we will see how that progresses, so I cannot say for now the duration of the suspension,” Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said after a meeting with diplomats on the issue.
“There are conversations, yes, with our partners. We want to use social media for good.”
Twitter has not yet commented but said earlier that it was “deeply concerned” by Nigeria’s move and that it would work “to restore access for all”.
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