You’re suspended! 👿

Nigerian government suspends Twitter; Netflix and the South African government; Ethiopia's Telebirr reaches a million subscribers in 1 week.

Hello there,

If we could give this week a theme, it’ll be African governments vs foreign companies, but before we get to that there’s a motion to change the name of Nigeria to the United Africa Republic. Looks like the person drew inspiration from the United Arab Emirates.


You’re suspended!

“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

That’s the deleted tweet that started it all.

In Nigeria, The rave of the moment is the government’s decision to suspend Twitter’s operations because the social media giant deleted that tweet by Nigeria’s president.

Why did Twitter delete it?

A short answer is that many Nigerians asked for it. A better answer is that the platform has zero-tolerance for violence or tweets that may seem to threaten violence against a group of people.

What’s next?

The government gave a directive for the Nigerian broadcasting commission (NBC) to begin to license social media operations and has reached out to internet service providers to shut off people’s access to Twitter. Twitter isn’t accessible via some internet service provider.

Why does it matter?

A few weeks ago Twitter chose Ghana as its African Headquarters and it caused a ruckus, considering the fact that Nigeria has a larger population size and Twitter still hired for Nigerian roles. This is further validation that it was the right move (not that we ever doubted it).

For now, Nigerian Twitter users would have to turn on VPNs.


Netflix would rather do less than more

In South Africa, nobody is banning or suspending anyone but there's been a little scuffle between the government and Netflix.

What happened?

The government plans to set a 30% local content quota on video streaming platforms as proposed in a recent policy framework. This means 30% of the content available to South Africans on Netflix will be South African video content.

What does Netflix think?

Good idea but wrong approach. Netflix thinks the government’s approach to spur the production of more local content will backfire.

In this case, Netflix has two options: Produce large quantities of low-budget local content to make up its quotas or reduce the size of content available to South Africa.

What could be next?

For Netflix, it's always going to be quality over quantity, so it’ll rather cut down on it’s total video content in South Africa.  It looks like Netflix has the upper hand in this scenario.


One million subscribers in a week

Between 2015 to 2020, Ethiopia had about 1.5 million total mobile money subscribers. 

A week after the launch of the state-owned mobile money platform, Telebirr, it announced that it reached 1 million subscribers.

Wow that was fast

Yes, it was. Telebirr isn’t the first mobile money service in Ethiopia, but it’s just the first that has really taken off. Its rival M-birr, which started in 2015 has just over 1.8 million users. 

In Ethiopia, the contest for mobile money subscribers has only begun. 

Looks like there are only two contestants, Who else is interested?

A consortium including Safaricom and the UK’s Vodafone and MTN. 

At the beginning of May, Ethiopia’s telecoms licence was awarded to a consortium including Safaricom and the UK’s Vodafone. MTN lost out on the bid for the second license. The winning team bid $850 million while MTN’s bid was $600m.

While both licenses do not contain a mobile money license, Ethiopia’s government has hinted it’s open to make that available sometime in the future. 

For MTN that lost out, it’s considering bidding for the second licence but this time hopes that Ethiopia would include a mobile money license.

Big Picture: Telebirr aims to attract 21 million users for the service in its first year of operations, rising to 33 million in five years. 

In this case, Telebirr has an upper hand as it’s backed by the government. The other companies can only hope that soon they’ll be allowed to compete for a share of Ethiopia’s mobile money market. 


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