THE lawmaker representing Delta North Senatorial District, Senator Ned Nwoko, has advocated for the establishment of Nigerian offices by various social media platforms operating in the country.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, Nwoko highlighted several reasons behind his call.
He emphasized the importance of having local offices for these platforms to enhance revenue generation, facilitate smoother business operations, provide a convenient avenue for addressing complaints and legal matters, and create employment opportunities.
The senator underscored the significance of major social media platforms having a physical presence in Nigeria. He argued that this presence is crucial for driving economic growth, fostering job creation, streamlining dispute resolution processes, and boosting revenue generation for the nation.
Pointing out that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a population exceeding 200 million, Nwoko highlighted the nation’s active engagement with popular social media platforms.
“These multinational social platforms widely used in Nigeria include, but are not limited to, Facebook, X, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok.
“Nigerians rank first in Africa for their extensive social media usage and second globally, with an average daily internet usage of three hours and 46 minutes, according to the latest Global Web Index (GWI) as reported by Business Insider Africa.
“In spite of the substantial usage of these social media platforms by Nigerians within the country, these companies have yet to establish offices in Nigeria,” Nwoko said.
Nwoko noted the success stories of various multinational corporations, including the MTN Group, Shell, Chevron, Nestle, Total, P&G, and others, which have established operations in Nigeria. He highlighted how these corporations have made substantial contributions to the economic growth and technological advancement of the nation.
“However, notably absent is their presence in Nigeria, a nation globally ranked second in Internet and social media usage,” Nwoko said.
Nwoko recollected that in 2022, the Federal Government, acting through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), issued a mandate requiring all online platforms to register, establish offices in Nigeria, and designate contact persons to liaise with the Government.
Additionally, he pointed out the incident in June 2021 when the Nigerian Government suspended Twitter (now X) following the removal of a post by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
“However, the ban was later lifted after the social media platform agreed to open a local office, among other agreements.
“A case that could have been swiftly, efficiently, and effectively resolved if the respective social media platform had established an office in Nigeria,” he said.
The lawmaker highlighted the absence of offices for multinational social platforms in Nigeria, emphasizing that although these platforms maintain offices in various countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, and others, none are established in Nigeria.
He explained that the strategy adopted by these platforms involves having offices in different countries to cater to their user bases, oversee regional content policies, foster local partnerships, and address specific market needs and concerns.
Expressing concern, Nwoko noted that Nigeria’s lack of offices for social media platforms raises issues related to limited local representation.
“Addressing specific issues or concerns relevant to Nigeria takes a longer time and is less effectively handled due to distance and potential cultural or regulatory gaps.
“The lack of proximity also results in slower responses to user complaints, regulatory inquiries, or content moderation issues specific to Nigeria.
“Also missed economic opportunities as these platforms typically employ a diverse range of professionals, from technical roles to customer support, content moderation, marketing, legal, and managerial positions,” he said.
The lawmaker underscored that the absence of these offices represents missed opportunities for job creation, technology transfer, and contributions to the Nigerian economy through taxes and partnerships.
He emphasized that the lack of social media offices in the country creates challenges in addressing legal or regulatory issues concerning content, data privacy, and user rights.
Nwoko urged the ministries of Communication and Digital Economy, as well as Foreign Affairs, to actively engage with multinational social media platforms, encouraging them to establish offices in Nigeria.
He emphasized the considerable economic benefits, job creation, and the enrichment of local engagement that would result from having these offices in the nation.
Highlighting the importance of compliance, Nwoko called on NITDA to monitor adherence to existing regulations that mandate online platforms to register and establish offices in Nigeria. He stressed the need for social media platforms to comply with these requirements to benefit Nigerian users and the overall economy.