By Ezinwanne Onwuka
Twitter’s CEO and co-founder, Jack Dorsey, announced the company’s presence on the continent earlier this week. He made it known that the microblogging platform will set up its African head office in Ghana.
Dorsey had spent three weeks travelling through Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa in 2019.
During his time in Africa, the Twitter CEO met with industry leaders and tech stakeholders to discuss Twitter’s expansion into Africa. On his departure, Dorsey said that “Africa will define the future” and that he intended to live on the continent for up to six months in mid-2020.
While the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted Dorsey’s plans to live in Africa, the decision to open headquarters on the continent gathered steam throughout 2020, with Ghana ultimately being picked as the social media platform’s base of operations. Now it seems that his business will make that move first.
On why Ghana was chosen as the company’s African headquarters, Twitter explained that the country was a firm supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet.
The social media giant also cited Ghana’s hosting of the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as another reason for moving there, saying it aligns with “its ambition to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa.”
Consequently, the Nigerian and Ghanian Twittersphere has been set abuzz over the company’s choice of Ghana as headquarters of the microblogging platform, instead of Nigeria.
🇬🇭 Twitter is now present on the continent.
— jack (@jack) April 12, 2021
According to NOI polls, 39.6 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, which is more than the entire 32 million population of Ghana.
Obviously, the question on every Nigerian mind is “Why Ghana and not Nigeria?”
There have been varying views about Twitter’s choice of Ghana as its ‘African home’ and not Nigeria where tech space looks ripe for the company’s presence in Africa.
Apart from the reasons given by Twitter’s CEO on what prompted his choice of Ghana, it is worthy to note that in 2019, Ghana ranked 13 places higher than Nigeria in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.
Ghana also ranked as the 43rd most peaceful country in the world, in the 2020 Global Peace Index, placing 104 spots ahead of Nigeria, which grapples with Boko Haram insurgency and periodic outbreaks of violence.
Twitter’s decision might be a snub to the continent’s largest economy (Nigeria), which is seeing rapid growth and investment in its tech scene but the above statistics show that Ghana has made a lot of progress in the last decade and Nigeria, the ‘Giant of Africa’s is lagging behind.
Twitter setting up its African HQ in Ghana is a clear message to Nigerians, and most especially, to the Nigerian government.
We have to think carefully about the reasons why Twitter chose Ghana, not necessarily in the context of whether we want to bring Twitter to Nigeria or not, but in the context of what it will take for us to remain a competitive destination for investors.
We need to start thinking very carefully about enhancing democracy and the rule of law, freedom of speech, and most importantly, our role in enabling the Africa Free Trade Agreement. It’s not enough for us to just be a big market. We have a next door neighbor, a very competitive neighbor, who’s doing all the right things to make itself the hub of West Africa.
The choice of Ghana as HQ for Twitter’s Africa operations is EXCELLENT news. Gov’t and Ghanaians welcome very much this announcement and the confidence reposed in our country. 1/3 #TwitterInGhana #TwitterGhana https://t.co/HdCqFgXK0x
— Nana Akufo-Addo (@NAkufoAddo) April 12, 2021