Twitter Ban Blocks Nigerian Businesses

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Ogechi Egemonu says she was selling more than $1,200 worth of watches, shoes and handbags on Twitter every week.

That was until the Nigerian government suspended the social media site.

“I feel very, very distraught, I feel really, really disorganized.”

Now the Lagos-based entrepreneur says she doesn’t know how she will cope.

“I have been trying to build this platform. I have been trying to put my best. Be consistent they said, do this, post more. Talk to more people. I have done everything I needed to do but then I was able to do that because I had a platform.”

Nigeria’s government suspended Twitter on June 4, two days after the platform removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional separatists.

The decision has left small and medium-sized businesses reeling.

Research firm NOI Polls estimates 39.6 million Nigerians use Twitter, 20% for business advertising and 18% to look for employment opportunities.

The suspension was among complaints from people who took to the streets on Saturday (June 12), including rights activist Yaki Feirrari.

“The federal government and the rulership of Nigeria is so dumb that they have forgotten the economical value of Twitter.”

Dumebi Iyeke, a research analyst with the Financial Derivatives Company, said young Nigerians – among whom there is a 45% unemployment rate – would be hit hardest.

“We are looking at a potential loss in their revenue, looking at a potential loss and then the ripple effect will be on output growth and because if the manufacturing sector is affected, businesses are affected, trade sector is affected. We are looking at a potential decline in economic growth.”

Information minister Lai Mohammed last week said that all social media sites must register a local entity and get a license to operate.

He cited the complaints over lost money as proof that the suspension was working and said that other sites are still available.

– Reuters

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