It has been two days since Twitter announced its intention to open its African headquarters in Ghana. To build its team, Twitter will be recruiting people in the positions of product, design, engineering, communication and marketing. This team will work remotely for the time being, while the option of acquiring an office space is considered for the future.
According to Twitter, establishing its presence in Africa has been long overdue, especially in its mission to ensure that it “increase[s] the number of people who feel comfortable participating in” global conversations. Opening an office in Ghana is an effort to ease this process, by becoming more involved with the local scene.
The choice to open up a branch in Ghana was informed by the country’s support for “free speech, online freedom and, the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate of.” The social media company also said that Ghana was chosen because the country is to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Nigerians have since reacted to the news, and several of them expressed disappointment, including Abubakar Suleiman, CEO of Sterling Bank, and surprisingly Adamu Garba. Apparently, it came as a surprise to these people that Nigeria, Africa’s giant, was skipped in favour of Ghana, a smaller country. There’s also the fact that Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, visited Nigeria in 2019. Well, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise, to us, that Ghana would have been chosen over Nigeria. Here’s why:
- During the EndSARS protests, Adamu Garba threatened to and did sue Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, for aiding the protesters and pushing false narratives of the protests. He ironically composed a series of venomous tweets and even launched a mobile application. The application, called Crowee, was basically a low budget knockoff of Twitter.
- The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey is a big investor in Bitcoin, with a company of his own to that effect. He is also known for buying Bitcoin to make it the currency of the internet. Meanwhile, only recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) banned the buying and selling of Bitcoin in thy country. That being said, Nigeria doesn’t make an attractive place to set up in.
- Twitter said Ghana was chosen for its promotion of freedom of speech and online liberty. On this count, Nigeria hasn’t proven itself worthy in recent times. Besides the EndSARS protests, it isn’t uncommon to learn about people being incarcerated for speaking up, especially in criticism of the government. There is also the recent national drama of social media regulation. A social media company like Twitter, built on driving forward conversation, no matter how controversial, cannot exist in a country that may decide to police such conversations.
- It’s no secret, the Naira’s constant fluctuations, therefore making Nigeria an unreliable market. Ghana on the other hand, can boast of a stable economy. The country has had more foreign investors than Nigeria in recent times. Its GDP has also been on a steady climb, only dropping a little because of the pandemic.
- In terms of innovation, Ghana is also ahead of Nigeria. They provide their citizens with an enabling environment and encourage individual contributions to national growth. Nigeria, on the other hand, is infamous for its stifling policies and for antagonizing tech startups, rather than finding ways to support and collaborate.
There are many more reasons why Ghana is a better choice for Twitter to open an office in. However, this should be counted as a success for the continent, rather than a loss for Nigeria. Nigeria has a lot of work to do in making itself more attractive to investors and it should focus on doing that, not unhealthy competitions with its neighbours.