Twitter surprised Africa when it announced that it would set up a regional headquarters in Ghana, West Africa, and sparked a lively debate about the business environment for technology startups across the continent.
For social media giants, the decision was based on shared values-Ghana supports “freedom of speech, freedom of online, and the open internet.”
The fact that it also functions as the headquarters of African Continental Free Trade Area Established to accelerate freedom of trade and movement within Africa, it seems to have cemented Ghana’s appeal as a gateway to the region.
Ghana was a way to “immerse yourself more in a rich and vibrant community that drives daily conversations across the African continent.” Twitter said..
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Ad quickly retweeted the news, saying it was the beginning of a “beautiful partnership” and essential to the development of Ghana’s technology hub.
“I’m in Ghana and it’s an exciting time to do business in Ghana.”
However, many industry leaders were initially stunned.
“In Africa, the continent’s high-tech hubs were traditionally considered Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya,” says Kenya-based Kagure Wamunyu. He is leading the expansion of Kobo 360, a connected digital hauling startup. Truck driver and cargo owner.
Kenya, in particular, has succeeded in fostering an environment that enables a technology ecosystem and is an industry leader in high-level Internet penetration, she says.
“So it was an interesting choice, but the move to Ghana is still a victory for the continent.”
In retrospect, Nigerian technology pioneer Femi Longe agrees that Ghana was a natural choice.
“Nigeria is a big and attractive market, but to be honest, it’s a very tough place to do business. Ghana has invested heavily in recent years to create an attractive environment for outsiders. It was. “
He has worked at two of the continent’s most vibrant technology hubs in Lagos, Nigeria’s main city. He then co-founded the Co-Creation Hub and acquired Kenya’s iHub (another major innovation center).
He believes that the positiveness of the Ghanaian president has clearly played a vital role in Twitter’s decision.
“If you look at Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria in terms of political stability and quality of leadership, only one country stands out.
“If a company is thinking about the potential impact of government policy, I go to Ghana. Since Ghana is an access point to Nigeria, it has complete access to the Nigerian market without the dysfunction associated with being there. You can get great benefits. “
Nigeria “Suffocating Entrepreneurship”
And Nigeria’s “dysfunction” became an issue after the announcement that startup founders would share their experiences.
Nigeria’s intelligence minister, Lai Mohammed, accused the media of negatively reporting Nigeria on Twitter with a snub. say it: “This is what you get when you demarket your country.”
But some, like Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho, CEO of FutureSoft, a digital marketing firm based in Lagos, argue that the problem is much deeper in Nigeria. A thriving high-tech industry.
“We’ve seen regulators intervene in regulation across the sector after tech companies have disrupted the market,” she says.
“Regulations are good, but they can mean creating barriers to entry, for example by setting high license fees. Regulators are concerned about the big picture and long-term implications of these regulations and policies. You have to think. “
A recent example of an entrepreneurial impediment was the 2020 ban on commercial motorcycle taxis from Lagos’ core business and residential areas-launched to provide huge services, Gokada, ORide, Introduced as a number of internationally funded ride hailing platforms such as Max.ng Demand.
You may also be interested:
Ghanaians, meanwhile, want their economy to bounce high on Twitter’s trampolines, but they also want to see locals hired.
Regina Honu, who runs the Soronko Academy, a digital skills development center in Accra, the capital of Ghana, said:
“When other organizations come in, a lot of diasporas will come back and there will be a lot of other Africans who want to come and work in Ghana. Hopefully they will come and engage in talent development. Probably. “
Her organization is one of many companies that are thriving in Ghana’s increasingly vibrant tech scene.
When George Appiah, executive director of Ghana Tech Labs, which supports the development of innovation and entrepreneurship, was launched almost 10 years ago, Accra had only three technology hubs.
Currently, there are about 50 companies nationwide, including the company he founded, Kumashi Hive.
“Compared to other countries like Nairobi and Lagos where technology space is thriving in just one city, Ghana has a growing ecosystem with many start-ups in Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale. And Akra. It’s very decentralized and it’s a testament to the depth of the ecosystem. “
In 2012, he says, the government had little interest in this sector.
“Now we have a government that appreciates the role of digital space and technology starters.
“Efforts have been made gradually to provide policies to support start-ups. Local investment is growing over time.”
“Hotbed of innovation”
This is commendable, but Ghanaian entrepreneur Hermann Hesse says that domestic tech companies are often undervalued while international companies are on the pedestal.
He said he founded SOFTtribe, one of West Africa’s leading software development companies, more than 25 years ago, hoping to see more influential domestic companies and African social media platforms.
“Where is Ghana’s” Twitter “? Do local businesses get the support they need to become “Twitter”? “
Despite these sentiments, Chinaly Hesse says she believes there is a “spillover” in terms of work and a potential influx of foreign multinationals affected by the presence of Twitter. I will.
As former Twitter executive Bruce Daysley says, it all shows that Ghana will be a “hotbed of innovation.”
“I think it’s a true ardent support for Africa,” he said of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s move in Ghana.
“Jack was really inspired by the spirit of invention and the spirit of entrepreneurial creativity. I think this little baby step reflects that.”