The Nigerian government’s ban on Twitter is bad news for SMEs who rely on social media to promote and grow their businesses. This prohibition will no doubt undermine efforts to use e-commerce as an engine of economic growth.
Nigerians haven’t had free access to the platform since June 5, and with the threat of indictments for those using VPNs to access Twitter illegally, it becomes harder to circumvent the order. This ban is a massive hit for SMEs because they engage with their business clients, stay on top of trends, and build crucial leads and conversions on Twitter. Nigerians at home and abroad form an active community on the platform they often used to promote Nigerian excellence, including start-ups, artists, and entrepreneurs.
Currently, Nigerians can’t access Twitter Ads to advertise and use Twitter Analytics to make informed decisions based on insights. Therefore, bloggers, influencers, video makers, and content creators are losing money while support staff as e-commerce operators are losing their jobs. Twitter is also a substantial resource for freelancers to find clients calling out for pitches.
As Africa’s largest economy, this ban will have long-term consequences on the rest of the continent. Nigeria is a tech hub where its productions and distribution are vital for other African companies. Even before the ban, Google and Twitter snubbed them by setting up their Africa headquarters in Ghana, and any kind of prohibition on social media platforms won’t help Nigeria’s reputation grow. An unreliable and insecure Internet economy is also bad news for Nigeria's tech and fintech startups looking to expand, as well as the SMEs to whom they provide services and capital.
To show a strong hand, the Nigerian government is also depriving itself of the revenue these businesses pay in taxes, which could be used to fund public programs to combat the country's 33% unemployment rate.
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