Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey announced on 12 April that Ghana will serve as the social media giant’s African headquarters. The announcement comes with varying views from the tech world and also caused a ripple effect of public opinion on social media regarding his choice of Ghana, ahead of other seemingly thriving countries in Africa like South Africa, Nigeria, or Ethiopia.
What is crystal clear is that Dorsey truly listened and learned from his visit to regions in Africa in November 2019. Recognising the gateway of opportunity for global technology growth and a ripe business market with a growing population of 1.2 billion people, it is not surprising given the increased focus on a rising native currency for the internet.
Countries like Nigeria engaged in social media debates and banter with mixed feelings for Twitter’s spotlight on Ghana. Nigeria seemed like the obvious choice for Twitter’s presence on the continent and operations considering its population and history of creating arguably, one of the most memorable Twitter campaigns of all time – #bringbackourgirls in 2014. The number of internet users in Nigeria increased by 2.2 million (+2.6%) between 2019 and 2020 and internet penetration stood at 42% in January 2020.
While Nigeria has become Africa’s leader in startup formation, the country has highlighted enormous capabilities in fintech that present a good opportunity for a thriving digital market space. However, the ecosystem continues to struggle with unreliable connectivity, electricity, and poor infrastructure.
Twitter’s long-term commitment to Africa not only shows an alignment with Ghana’s recent appointment to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) but also its overall goal to invest in local communities and help improve the democratic landscape and social fabric.
Entrepreneurs across Africa make a case for their home markets and rightly so but there are more questions than answers regarding the lessons learned from Dorsey’s choice of Ghana over other countries in Africa. Leaders in the region must draw insight from a global call for true freedom of speech, online freedom, and the open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.