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Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban After Losing N546.5 billion in Less Than A Year.
The seven-month-old ban imposed on Twitter by the Nigerian government was yesterday lifted. But it wasn’t without the microblogging platform agreeing to meet some stringent conditions laid down by the Nigerian authorities.
The Nigerian government had in June, 2021, announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operation in Nigeria after the platform deleted tweets made by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had threatened to treat members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the language they understand.
Though the suspension of Twitter’s operation in Nigeria led to both local and global outcry, the President Buhari government remained unwavering in its resolve to force the microblogging platform to operate within the Nigerian space the way it wanted.
The lifting of the ban which was announced in a statement signed by Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), was meant to take effect from midnight of January 13, 2022.
However, as of 7:30 a.m. on January 13, 2022, Twitter is still inaccessible without the use of VPN.
VPN is a technology that encrypts your Internet traffic on unsecured networks to protect your online identity and hide your details.
Conditions For Lifting The Ban
Recall that three months ago, President Buhari announced that he had directed that Twitter suspension be lifted — only if some conditions are met, which includes allowing citizens to use the platform for positive engagements.
Some of the conditions include legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publications in line with Nigerian laws.
While announcing the lifting of the ban, the government noted that Twitter has agreed to meet the set out conditions.
The Conditions are listed and explained below…
REGISTRATION OF TWITTER WITH THE CAC
One of the conditions given by the federal government is that the social media giant must register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria.
The statement added that Twitter has agreed to register with the CAC.
“Twitter has committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022. The legal entity will register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC),” the statement reads.
“The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.”
APPOINTMENT OF COUNTRY REP
The government also noted that Twitter would appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities.
The Global Public Policy team is also directly available through a dedicated communication channel.
TWITTER WILL PAY TAX
The statement noted that the micro-blogging platform has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.
ENROL NIGERIAN OFFICIALS TO MANAGE PROHIBITED CONTENT
The federal government said the company also agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals.
According to the statement, the portal will provide a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules.
Additionally, the portal will provide a channel for the law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification on content that violates Nigerian Laws.
TO PLAY BY NIGERIA RULES AND CULTURE
The government said Twitter also agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws, national culture and history on which such legislation has been built.
The platform will work with the federal government and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.
This Is How Twitter Reacted
Reacting to the lifting of its suspension, Twitter announced its official return as it assured the Nigerian government of its commitment of driving civic participation.
It posted, “We are pleased that Twitter has been restored for everyone in Nigeria. Our mission in Nigeria and around the world, is to serve the public conversation.
“We are deeply committed to Nigeria, where Twitter is used by people for commerce, cultural engagement, and civic participation.
“We’re committed to integrating diverse perspectives that make our service better for everyone.”
What Twitter Ban Cost Nigeria
According to the NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool, Nigeria lost N104.02 million ($250,600) every hour to the ban, bringing the daily losses to N2.46 billion.
By the end of yesterday, it was 5,328 hours in the 222 days since the social networking site was blocked, and about N546.5 billion was already lost by the economy.
A reliable industry said yesterday that it must have been a smart move on the part of FG to have lifted the ban because the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court was expected to deliver a judgement on the case filed by the Social Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) next week.
Contrary to claims that there were about 40 million Twitter users, findings revealed that there was just 3.05 million potential audiences that the microblogging platform reports could be reached with adverts on the platform.
According to digital report 2021 by Hootsuite, a social media and marketing dashboard, Twitter’s potential advertising audience compared to the total population aged 13 plus in Nigeria is 2.4 per cent, while the quarter-on-quarter change in Twitter’s advertising reach is 17.3 per cent.
The implication of this is that Twitter’s penetration in the country is still very low compared to other platforms. Analytically, it equally means that it is unlikely that these 3.05 million adverts audience would be impacted by the American company.
While the ban lasted, some Nigerians, including government officials, were still tweeting. They circumvented the process by installing Virtual Private Network (VPN).
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