Posted by News Express | 29 June 2021 | 277 times
The chickens are coming home to roost as the ban on Twitter operations in the country has started taking its toll on small and medium businesses (SMBs), reports LUCAS AJANAKU
These are not the best of times for some small businesses that rely on Twitter for survival.
They are finding it tough to cope as a result of the indefinite suspension imposed on the operation of the microblogging site by the Federal Government.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JE Stores, Jadesola Praise, said her sales had dipped since the ban was imposed because she depends on the platform to reach her numerous customers.
According to her, JE Stores is a virtual shop that deals in unisex wears, sneakers, bags, slides, wristwatches and others with nationwide delivery arrangements.
To continue to survive, she has now opened a WhatsApp business account through which she’s been reaching out to her customers.
“My sales have been affected. I am hopeful that the government and Twitter will reach an agreement soon so that the nightmare will come to an end,” she said.
Also, a Lagos-based entrepreneur, Ogechi Egemonu, said she was selling more than N500,000 worth of watches, shoes and handbags on Twitter weekly.
Now, with the site suspended by the government, Egemonu does not know how she will cope.
“Social media is where I eat. I depend on social media for my livelihood,” she had told Reuters.
Praise and Egemonu are a few of the small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country that have been affected by the indefinite suspension of the micro-blogging platform.
The Federal Government had on June 4, announced the “indefinite” suspension of Twitter over “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”. It came days after the platform deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s post threatening to punish secessionist agitators.
With a huge youthful population, analysts estimate that Twitter has about 40 million users in the country. They say a sizable number of citizens use Twitter to eke a living.
Though Twitter is accessible via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that mask location, experts warn its consistent use could have ripple effects on the economy.
Praise said she would not resort to VPN use for patriotic reasons.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has warned on the damage the ban will have on the economy.
“The ban has significant collateral damage,” said Dr Muda Yusuf, its Director-General, arguing that a “sizeable number of citizens” use Twitter to make a living.
According to NOI Polls, nearly 20 per cent of Nigeria’s population of 200 million have Twitter accounts.
It was estimated by NetBlocks that Nigeria’s fragile economy will lose $6,014,390 (about N2.47 billion at N410 per dollar exchange rate) per day for blocking the operations of Twitter.
NetBlocks, a watchdog organisation that monitors cybersecurity and the governance of the internet uses data-driven online service, estimated the economic cost of internet disruptions on its cost of shutdown tool (COST) platform.
The platform, built on Brookings Institution and CIPESA methodologies, estimates the economic cost of internet shutdowns, mobile data blackouts, and social media restrictions using public economic indicators relating to the global digital economy.
Checks on the COST platform showed that a single-day total internet shutdown will cost the country about N48.6 billion in economic value relating to the global digital economy.
According to the data, if Nigeria shuts down WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, it will lose N10.9 billion daily.
A research analyst with the Financial Derivatives Company, Dumebi Iyeke said the ban would hit young Nigerians – among whom there is a 45 per cent unemployment rate – the hardest.
“We are looking at a potential loss in their revenue,” Iyeke said, adding that it could further lower living standards amid high inflation.
Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said all social media sites must register a local entity and get a licence to operate from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
He cited complaints about losing money as proof that the ban was effective, but said other sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp are still available.
The NBC subsequently directed broadcasting stations in the country to desist from patronising Twitter.
Its Acting Director-General, Prof Armstrong Idachaba, said the order was pursuant to the suspension of the platform’s operation in the country over its persistent use for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
Titled: Suspend Twitter Handles, the statement signed by Prof Ida Haba reads: “Section 2(1) r of the NBC Act entrusts the Commission with responsibility to ensure strict adherence to the national laws, rules and regulations,” the DG said.
“Section 3.11.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code provides that ”the broadcaster shall ensure that law enforcement is upheld at all times in a matter depicting that law and order are socially superior to or more desirable than Crime and Anarchy.”
“Attention is also drawn to section 5.6.3 of The Code which requires Broadcasters to be mindful of materials that may cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the society in the use of a user-generated content (UGC).
“Note that it will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter as a source of its information therefore strict compliance is enjoined.”
Analysts hope the matter would be settled amicably soon because when two elephants fight, the grass always suffers. (Courtesy, The Nation)
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