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Jack Dorsey: Unpicking Twitter Boss’s Passion for Nigeria

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By Nduka Orjinmo – BBC News

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is no stranger to controversy but in Nigeria he has become embroiled in the battle between the country’s tech-savvy youths and a ruling class that is seen to be out-of-touch with their thinking.

Jack Dorsey: Unpicking Twitter Boss's Passion for Nigeria

Jack Dorsey, Twitter Boss

His Twitter platform was used to galvanise support for last year’s #EndSars protests, which began as a movement against police brutality and morphed into a confrontation between the political class and Nigeria’s youth.

But Twitter is now blocked in the country after a recent tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, 78, was deleted.

Many Nigerians adore Mr Dorsey. His ideals of open internet, freedom of expression and economic rights resonate with those who feel marginalised by their government.

Far from being intimidated by the Twitter ban, Mr Dorsey has kept tweeting about Nigeria and has captivated many here.

As the nation marked Democracy Day on 12 June and protests were held in different cities calling for a reversal of the block on Twitter, he tweeted the Nigerian flag with an emoji of a handshake and “#bitcoin”.

— jack (@jack) June 12, 2021

The next day he retweeted an article calling for the Nigerian government to pursue a Bitcoin standard, and quoted a tweet with the caption “the people of Nigeria will lead #bitcoin”.

Some analysts say this shows Mr Dorsey is a businessman looking after his interests.

While he is more famous as the CEO of Twitter, Mr Dorsey is also the founder of Square and Cash App, two payment processing platforms with interests in cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies targeted

Nigeria’s cryptocurrency market is the largest in Africa.

High inflation and a weak national currency has led millions to turn to digital currencies, which some see as safer and more reliable.

“There will always be room for products and solutions that help Nigerians save, invest and hedge in currencies other than in naira [the local currency],” said Faith Obafemi, a cryptocurrencies expert in Lagos.

She said there was space in the Nigeria cryptocurrencies market for services like trading that Mr Dorsey’s financial apps can provide.

However, Nigeria’s crypto-market is under regulation after the central bank placed restrictions in February.

Concerned by the growing adoption of digital currencies and what it saw as the harm it posed to the Nigerian economy, the government barred financial institutions from dealing in them.

But the regulation has had the opposite effect as investors have seen an increase in activity.

Much like the way people have got around the Twitter ban, there has been a surge in cryptocurrency transactions between individuals that bypass the financial institutions.

“When you look at the Twitter ban and you look at the cryptocurrency ban, it really draws from the same government-driven fear which is: ‘To what extent can we allow Nigerian youths to exercise freedom on the internet?’,” said Senator Ihenyen, head of Nigeria’s blockchain and cryptocurrencies association.

Mr Dorsey’s defenders argue that while he is advancing his business interests, he also appears to be genuinely interested in Nigeria – even though he overlooked it for Twitter’s Africa headquarters, preferring Ghana instead.

One-stop shop for everything

Mr Dorsey visited Lagos as part of his tour of Africa in November 2019, and a Nigerian, Uche Adegbite, is among the social media giant’s senior directors.

Nigeria’s former Finance Minister and current World Trade Organisation head, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had also previously served on Twitter’s board.

The founder of the Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Bosun Tijani, who met Mr Dorsey during his visit, said the Twitter CEO left with a strong belief that the platform was having a real impact in Nigeria.

“It’s a country that is typically hierarchical but Twitter is one of the platforms that gives opportunity for people, regardless of who you are, to have conversations that naturally in the Nigerian context you never get to have,” he said.

In fact, Twitter in Nigeria is more than a platform. It is a one-stop shop for everything – from job openings, to a missing persons portal, and a civic space to hold public officials to account.

It made its biggest political impact during last year’s #EndSars demonstrations, when it became the platform of choice for the young demonstrators. They succeeded in forcing the president to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), a notorious police unit that was known for its brutality.

However, the peaceful protests were then hijacked by thugs who damaged public buildings across Nigeria.

For that, the government says it holds Mr Dorsey “liable”, with some officials going as far as to accuse him of being part of a campaign to remove President Buhari from office.

Buhari’s controversial tweet

Information Minister Lai Mohammed has alleged that Mr Dorsey raised funds through Bitcoin to sponsor one of the protest groups , and Twitter – which created a special emoji in support of the demonstrations – was used to stoke the crisis. Mr Dorsey has not commented on the allegations.

Relations hit a new low last month when the government blocked Twitter, alleging that the micro-blogging site was being used to undermine “Nigeria’s corporate existence” through the spreading of fake news that had “violent consequences”.

This came after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Buhari about the security issues in south-east Nigeria. He said “those misbehaving today” would be dealt with in “the language they will understand”.

The president faced a massive backlash from users who saw this as a threat of violence. As a result Twitter accused accusing Mr Buhari of violating its rules and removed the tweet.

The government was furious and accused Twitter of double standards. It highlighted messages by Nnamdi Kanu, the exiled leader of a banned group calling for secession from Nigeria, which it argued encouraged the killing of police officers.

Those tweets were subsequently deleted by Twitter.

The Twitter founder has largely stayed out of politics in other African countries, fuelling suspicion among his critics that he not only has a business interest in Nigeria, but also a political interest.

But Mr Tijani simply sees Mr Dorsey as representing a new breed of CEOs.

“He’s not the generation of Bill Gates. He’s part of the generation that doesn’t rely on the government,” he said.

Moreover, Nigeria’s youth are using his invention to push for political and economic change, worrying a government that does not have a good grasp of technology.

“[Government leaders] are beginning to see that this technology can be used to challenge them in ways that people have never been able to challenge them,” Mr Tijani added.

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E-Business

Davido Launches Chatter, Own Social Media App

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David Adeleke, Nigerian musician well known as Davido, has launched Chatter, a new social media application.

Davido Launches Chatter, Own Social Media App

Chatter is a social audiovisual utility platform designed to help amplify the voice of content creators and connect them with a vibrant community.

However, the app’s usage goes beyond content creators; business-minded individuals, as well as people looking to connect, have a place on it.

The musician used his social media accounts to announce the app’s release.

He gave a brief history of the development of the software and its features with his friend.

The well-known musician from Nigeria stated that he and Sir Banko, his close friend  are the owners of the app.

The music icon posted information about Chatter, a social audiovisual utility platform that connects content creators to a lively community and helps them magnify their voices.

In the past eight months, Davido has undertaken three internet projects.

Recall that the musician introduced his cryptocurrency.

However, the $DAVIDO coin fell a few days after it launched, prompting some cryptocurrency fans to call it a scam and a rug-pull.

 

 


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E-Business

Holiday Shopping Season to Look Different for Retailers this Year as Shoppers Take on more Debt

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By Zuko Mdwaba, Salesforce Area Vice President & Africa Leader

New Salesforce research shows that 37% of indebted consumers are using their credit cards more today than they were a year ago, while 32% report using alternative credit services like “buy now, pay later” more frequently. What’s more, 43% of consumers are carrying more debt compared to 2023. And this isn’t unique to one income bracket — consumers across all levels are tapping into their credit lines more today than they were last year.

Zuko Mdwaba

Zuko Mdwaba

But this increased reliance on credit isn’t due to consumers buying more. According to the Salesforce Shopping Index, online order volumes have been falling since 2022 and decreased by 2% year over year in the first quarter of this year. When they do buy, they’re trading down, buying discounted merchandise, and seeking private labels.

Holiday shopping prediction #1: Chinese shopping apps will take market share

As consumers face uncertainty around rising prices, they’re changing shopping habits. Long gone are the pandemic times when the fastest shipping time could win over new business. Now it comes down to price.

Shoppers are looking for the best deal. Two-thirds of global shoppers report that prices dictate where they chose to shop, with less than one-third prioritising quality of the goods. Temu is the clear winner, with 43% of Western shoppers purchasing on this platform within the last six months. But for Gen Zers, Shein is the top destination, with half of this group placing an order recently.

This holiday season, we predict that Chinese shopping applications will capture $160 billion in global ecommerce market share outside of China.

Holiday shopping prediction #2: Middle-mile shipping puts strain on margins

The Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and rising crude oil prices are driving up container costs worldwide, putting strain on the middle-mile infrastructure for the first half of the year. Additionally, last-mile challenges are also stacking up thanks to events like the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and rising delivery costs – stalling delivery times and adding expenses for retailers.

But retailers shouldn’t push the shipping expenses back on shoppers. Free shipping offers are a top-three reason why consumers choose to make a purchase from a particular brand or retailer. Over half of shoppers say they are more likely to purchase online than in store if delivery is free.

This holiday season we predict brands and retailers will spend an extra $197B in middle-mile expenses, increasing 97% over last year.

Holiday shopping prediction #3: Shoppers embrace AI to search for the perfect gift

Last holiday season, 17% of online purchases were influenced by AI – both predictive and generative. That totalled a whopping $199M of onlines sales worldwide in November and December. This year, consumers will increasingly leverage AI – knowingly or not – to search for the right gift at the right price. In fact, 53% of shoppers surveyed said they are interested in using generative AI for inspiring the perfect present. As retailers increasingly embed AI into search experiences, we predict search will drive a nearly 3x better conversion rate compared to traffic not engaging with site search.

Holiday shopping prediction #4: Black Friday becomes Cyber Friday

Over the years, as online shopping grew in popularity and consumers could shop from anywhere, holiday shopping started earlier and earlier in the month of November. Last year, Black Friday gained back 4% of online holiday sales, establishing itself as the biggest online shopping day of the year.

We’re expecting the same of the upcoming holiday shopping season. Two-thirds of shoppers say they’re holding out on making big purchases until Cyber Week, anticipating better deals. The big news is that Black Friday is going to be the biggest day for digital. Salesforce research predicts online sales will take 7% of in store sales on Black Friday.

Holiday shopping prediction #5: Retailers tap loyal shoppers to avoid skyrocketing digital marketing costs

Customer acquisition continues to be costly for retailers. In the face of a busy election cycles, and as Chinese companies buy up advertising inventory, digital marketing costs continue to get more expensive, and opportunities to get in front of the right audience grow scarce. This means that brands and retailers have to better engage their existing customer base amid this tug of war over digital advertising space.

But there are other opportunities. Shoppers are doubling down on loyalty. According to our Salesforce Shopping Index, the rate of repeat buyers in the first quarter increased by 8% over the last two years. And shoppers are prioritising brands and retailers that offer loyalty programmes. Our research shows 63% of shoppers are making more purchases from stores where they can earn and redeem loyalty points. This holiday season, we predict that 2 out of 5 holiday purchases will be made by a loyal repeat buyer.


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E-Business

APTS Cyber-Attacks Target African Governments, Others

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Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity firm, has said that it is keeping a close eye on advanced persistent threats (APTs) and nine active threat actors targeting African organisations.

APTS Cyber-Attacks Target African Governments, Others

Kaspersky researchers’ intelligence has identified government, energy, and telecommunications as the primary targets in African countries.

APT groups are long-term, targeted cyber-attacks in which intruders obtain network access and go undiscovered for a lengthy period of time. APT attacks are typically initiated to steal extremely sensitive data.

These APT organisations are frequently driven by espionage, financial gain, or, in some cases, hacktivism.

According to Kaspersky intelligence, MuddyWater, FruityArmor, and Sidewinder are among the region’s most prominent groups.

Kaspersky, which says it protects over a billion devices worldwide from cyberattacks, collaborates with law enforcement and offers intelligence to help them track down these sophisticated hackers.

These threat actors, according to the company, use a variety of methods to infiltrate their targets in the region.

Social engineering is a typical method employed on social media or via email, such as placing a bogus job advertisement for software developers.

According to Amin Hasbini, head of Kaspersky’s global research and analysis team for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, said it is critical to keep up with these sophisticated syndicates and stop corporate espionage.

“The current geopolitical climate is a hotbed for APT activity, therefore, investigating these attacks and gaining intelligence on their movement is vital for security teams and corporations in Africa. Our research allows businesses and government entities to determine the significance of the threat posed, understand the attackers’ next move and accordingly be able to take the appropriate security steps to protect themselves,” he said.

 

 

 


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