Technology experts in Nigeria have described the announcement by the social media platform, Twitter, of citing its African Headquarters in Ghana as a clear message to Nigeria on the need to tidy its home. While many Nigerians had taken to social media to express their displeasure on the choice of Ghana over Nigeria, which has the largest Twitter users on the continent, the experts said the business decision is beyond the number of active users.
Specifically, the Managing Director of Jidaw Systems Limited, Mr. Jide Awe, said Twitter chose Ghana because “it views the nation as a champion of democracy, supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the host of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Headquarters”. This, he said, is a clear message to Nigeria. “Despite having the most active Twitter users in Africa, infrastructure, security as well as social and business climate challenges may have ruled Nigeria out,” he added.
“What should concern Nigeria now is how to be more competitive by being a more attractive business and investment destination. We need to do more to deliberately and significantly foster job creation, business development and recovery, youth innovation, and more. Our vibrant youth energy, entrepreneurship, creativity, need air, space, and the right supportive culture to flourish in the 21st century. Policies and environment should be more friendly and understanding not just to investors but to Nigerians as well,” Awe said.
While noting that Ghana would benefit from the presence of Twitter, he said the company had also decided to cite its business in the country for its benefit. “Jobs and spinoffs created will be good for Ghana. But make no mistake Twitter is no "Father Christmas". Big Tech comes to Africa to pursue their interests. Welcome Big Tech, but don't get carried away. African countries should work to achieve win-win outcomes,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr. Adewale Adeoye, a Lagos-based IT expert, said Nigerians have been over-reacting to Twitter’s business decision rather than focusing on the peculiar challenges that may have stopped several other big businesses from setting up in Nigeria. “I think it is a bit selfish of Nigerians to want all tech giants citing their office in the country. The country already has the likes of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, among others establishing their presence with physical offices. What we need to focus on is how to attract more investments, not just within the tech ecosystem but across all sectors of the economy,” he said.
Adeoye added that rather than condemning the decision of Twitter, Nigerians should be happy for their neighbouring country, Ghana while challenging their leaders on the need to make the environment more conducive for businesses.
Explaining its choice of Ghana as its HQ for Africa, Twitter said: “As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate. Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa.
“Whenever we enter new markets, we work hard to ensure that we are not just investing in the talent that we hire, but also investing in local communities and the social fabric that supports them. We have already laid foundations through partnerships with Amref Health Africa in Kenya, Afrochella in Ghana, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) in Nigeria, and The HackLab Foundation in Ghana. As part of our long-term commitment to the region, we’ll continue to explore compelling ways we can use the positive power of Twitter to strengthen our communities through employee engagement, platform activation, and corporate giving,” Twitter stated.