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.
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.
According to NetBlocks, a watchdog organisation that monitors cyber-security and governance of the Internet, each hour of the social media gagging costs Nigeria about $250,000 (N102.5 million), bringing the daily loss to N2.5 billion. It means the economy would have lost approximately N7.5 billion in the past three days.
The suspension has already created a market access gap for millions of small and medium scale enterprises (SMSEs) that use the platform to reach their customers. This could potentially complicate the challenges COVID-19 and other structural defects had imposed on businesses. Also hit is the e-commerce market in the country, estimated at $12 billion.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased to the second highest on a global list of countries monitored by Bloomberg recently.
The jobless rate in Nigeria rose to 33.3% in the three months through December, according to a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics on March 15.
It went up from 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020.
Experts have noted that a good number of Nigeria’s youth population earn their livelihood through Twitter and that such incomes will be affected by the ban.
But within hours of the ban, internet searches for ‘VPNs’ – virtual private networks, which allow users to disguise their online identity and evade country-specific limits, surged across the country. Multiple videos appeared on YouTube explaining the ins and outs of VPNs to Twitter-hungry Nigerians.