Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Cloud

Nigerian minister expands social media ban

Article Image
It looks like the Nigerian government is a long way from forgiving Twitter, a week on from banning the social platform.

The minister of information, Lai Mohammed, has announced new rules for social media in the country, according to Reuters.

"We are insisting that for you to operate in Nigeria you must first be a Nigerian company and be licensed by the broadcasting commission," said Mohammed, adding that further conditions would be attached to permission to operate, while giving no details of what those would be.

This is a problem not only for Twitter, but for all the other social media services with an audience in Nigeria – and anyone likely to publish something critical of the Nigerian government.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp remain unaffected by the ban – but the minister did not indicate whether they would need a license.

No dates have been given for the move, and no more details have been forthcoming.

Mightier than the sword

The row started when the platform removed a tweet by the president, Muhammadu Buhari. Referring to the civil war which ended 40 years ago, Buhari made a thinly veiled threat toward would-be secessionists in the south of the country.

The administration responded by claiming Twitter was endangering their "corporate existence" by allowing "misinformation and fake news to spread." The ban was issued and Nigeria's telcos blocked the platform from their networks.

Reuters reports this is part of "a broader crackdown on freedom of expression in Africa's most populous country that has drawn comparisons to Nigeria's decades of military rule in the 20th century."

Which, given Buhari is a former military ruler, may not be that surprising.

Strange bedfellows

The news comes just after former US President Donald Trump issued a statement praising the Nigerian leader's ban.

"Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their president ... Who are they to dictate good and evil, if they themselves are evil?" he said.

Trump went on to encourage action against the big social media giants by other countries for not allowing "free and open speech."

His reaction may not be entirely impartial. The former president not only had tweets removed, but was ultimately banned by Twitter and Facebook following incendiary posts that many believe fueled the US Capitol riot in January 2021.

Facebook's oversight board has since decided the ban should last two years.

Stepping back

The Nigerian government has threatened to prosecute anyone found to be posting in defiance of the ban – meanwhile human rights organizations have roundly condemned the move.

Twitter has said it is "deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria," calling open Internet access an essential human right in modern society.

"We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world."

The US Embassy in Nigeria has also condemned the ban, saying it sends "a poor message to citizens, investors and businesses."

"Banning social media and curbing every citizen's ability to seek, receive and impart information undermines fundamental freedoms," it said.

"As President Biden has stated, our need for individual expression, open public conversation, and accountability has never been greater. The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less communication, alongside concerted efforts toward unity, peace, and prosperity."

It does seem that the removal of the posts may only be part of the story. In April 2021, Twitter announced it had chosen neighboring Ghana for its first African office.

This was not well received in Nigeria, with Mohammed blaming the media for misrepresenting the country.

Related posts:

Fiona Graham, Editorial Director, Light Reading

Innovation hub

Story

Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

Story

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

Story

Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

Story

Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up