from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – AN internet shutdown during Nigeria’s elections this weekend could have a dire impact on Africa’s largest economy, the Internet Society has warned.
The warning comes amid the potential of a shutdown as the West African country embarks on a massive poll exercise preceded by violence and accusations of vote rigging.
Some governments in the continent have resorted to shutting down the internet during elections or crises, purportedly to quell tensions, amid the dangers of false news online.
The Internet Society urges governments not to disrupt internet access during elections, or at any time, as the internet has become a cornerstone for economic growth.
The organisation noted shutdowns affect the availability of service platforms and payment systems, deter potential economic investors and cause confusion and instability by restricting the flow of information during democratic processes.
This could be grievous for Nigeria, home to more than 109 million internet users.
Over half of the population has access to the web, with 82 percent of the country’s web traffic generated via mobile devices.
Digital revenue is predicted to be US$13.59 billion in 2023, according to Statista, highlighting the importance of the digital economy and the disastrous consequences of cutting off internet access for businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals alike.
More than 93 million Nigerians are registered to vote, starting on Saturday with the election of the President/Vice President and members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
In 2021, Nigeria banned Twitter from operating in the country after the platform deleted one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets and temporarily suspended his account.
Twitter deemed his post, a warning to secessionist east of the country, as inappropriate and infringing on its rules.
The ban was lifted after seven months.
– CAJ News