According to NetBlocks, an international internet watchdog, the Nigerian government’s Twitter ban has cost the country N6 billion naira since the ban came into effect a week ago.
NetBlocks is a data-driven web application that allows people to evaluate the economic cost of Internet outages. The digital rights platform uses statistics from the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and Eurostat to evaluate the economic effect of an internet deficiency, mobile data blackout, or app restrictions/bans.
According to their calculations, shutting down Twitter for a week Nigeria has cost the country over N6 billion naira and counting.
MTN, Globacom, Airtel, 9mobile, and other networks also restricted network access to the Twitter platform and backend servers on Saturday morning, knowing or unknowingly to them, they have forced Nigerians to find other ways to access Twitter.
According to the Netblock platform, a single-day total internet outage would cost the country N48.596 billion in economic value while Nigeria will lose N10.885 billion per day if WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are all shut down.
Apart from the financial consequences, the Nigerian government’s order is, at its core, an infringement to Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, as well as a slew of other rights guaranteed by the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The suspension of Twitter is a move by the government to protect itself from the critics of the Nigerian youths who make up more than 70% of the population.
The government acted in the spur of the moment without considering the far-reaching socio-economic effects that the ban would have on small businesses in the country that heavily rely on the social media platform for various phases of their operations, as Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State correctly stated in his address, asking also for the #TwitterBan to be lifted.
“We should also remember that Twitter has gone beyond a source of communication for many of our hardworking youths in Nigeria. It has become a source of livelihood for many, irrespective of their political affiliations or religious leanings. Nigerian youths and digital communications organizations earn a living from being able to use the platform to post communications on behalf of their clients,” the governor said in an address on Saturday.
Also, the United States mission in Nigeria and other local and foreign organizations have warned the federal government on the suspension. With rising levels of economic hardship, widespread insecurity, and the rising expense of internet restriction, many believe the Nigerian government should focus on key macroeconomic issues, particularly poverty and insecurity which they’ve said nothing about.
As the restriction subsists, the cost keeps rising and the impact spreads from large corporations to small businesses. If the government continues to enforce the ban, it will set a dangerous precedence that could spread to other social media platforms, resulting in even more losses.