“Whilst Twitter coming to Africa wasn’t a surprise, choosing Ghana was a surprise. Many people were expecting Twitter to open up in Nigeria because they do have a higher number of internet users compared to Ghana,”

said Petersen.

Jay CabozBy Jay Caboz|April 21, 2021|7 Minutes|In AfCFTA

AfCFTA

#Africa Twitter ventures forth

One of the world’s largest social media platforms is setting up shop in Africa. A milestone move to tap into a growing population and the new African Continental Free Trade Area born on January 1.

It’s a seventy billion dollar social media platform and its putting down roots in Africa.  Twitter says it will cement its presence on the African continent by setting up its first African base in Ghana.

“Twitter’s mission is to serve the public conversation, and it’s essential, for the world and for Twitter, to increase the number of people who feel comfortable participating in it. To do this, we need to make it easier for everyone to join in and provide more relevant experiences for people across the world,” says the company in a press statement.

Twitter said it will recruit 11 people in Accra who will make history as the first hires by the social media giant on the continent. It’ll be a while before they can see the office because of Covid-19.

“Whenever we enter new markets, we work hard to ensure that we are not just investing in the talent that we hire, but also investing in local communities and the social fabric that supports them,” said Twitter.

The company says it chose Ghana because of its free speech and open internet. Another consideration is that the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is also based in Accra.  The new trade block plans to open up Africa for more trade between its many nations.

Twitter has a whopping 192 million daily active users, including Billionaire Tomorrow. But while this may pale in comparison with Facebook’s 1.84 billion daily users, it is a social media power house – the 16th largest social media platform in the world.

“The news that Twitter is opening an office in Africa is not a surprise.  Back in 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey did visit Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa,” said tech expert Brendon Petersen, founder of Reframed Group.

“During the visit [Dorsey] even went on to state that he wanted to move to the continent for 6 months to better understand the continent and the landscape with its unique challenges.”

But Covid-19 pandemic put this plan on hold.

In many ways, the social media giant now has an opportunity to cement its presence in Africa with its score of growing economies. It is very much uncharted territory for the equally vibrant world of the internet. A mere 39% of Africa’s population used the internet compared to the rest of the world average of 59%, according to Reuters, but this is going to change rapidly.

“There’s been a doubling in terms of the tech hubs across the continent between 2016 and 2019 which signifies growth potential,” said Petersen.

The sheer number of people on the continent makes it ripe for new technology, especially with mobile device penetration, he says.

“As the world becomes more mobile, in terms of technology usage, you are looking to Africa as a continent that is more mobile than anything else. It’s a place to adapt and expand your company….It is also the host of the African Continental Free Trade Area. I think that is the most appealing thing to Twitter and to Jack Dorsey as they try to gain a foothold on the continent.”

Following the announcement President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, who is also a lively Tweeter, with a lively 1.9 million followers, called the news the start of a beautiful partnership and critical for the development of Ghana’s hugely important tech sector.

But while the move may have been celebrated in Ghana, the announcement came as a shock to many users in neighbouring Nigeria, that has 39.6 million on Twitter, more than the entire 32 million population of Ghana.

“Whilst Twitter coming to Africa wasn’t a surprise, choosing Ghana was a surprise. Many people were expecting Twitter to open in Nigeria because they do have a higher number of internet users compared to Ghana,” said Petersen.

“Nigeria has not been the most politically stable for business growth. It does make it less appealing to set up an office there when they are dealing with government issues, acts of terrorism and so forth. Because of [Ghana’s] proximity to Nigeria it is still in a prime location on the continent.”

Ghana, according to Petersen, has a lot of potential as a tech hub, but still has a way to go. There have been an increasing number of start-ups looking to get funding in Ghana and using Ghana as a launch pad into that part of the continent but is still an under-served market.

“While they may face challenges, they’ve got a lot more working for them than against them. Once they’ve got the foothold they will be able to move their presence across the continent.

Twitter is looking for specialists to join several teams including product, design, engineering, marketing and communications that would work remotely amid the pandemic. It currently has a presence in Africa through its partnerships with Amref Health Africa in Kenya, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) in Nigeria, and the Afrochella and the, in Ghana.