Will Nigeria shut down internet access to stop protests?
As protests in Nigeria enter the seventh day
in partnership with FLUTTERWAVE, ENDEAVOR & TECHPOINT 15.10.2020
Good morning. Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey tweeted in support of Nigeria's #EndSARS protests. He did it in some style, referencing TechCabal's weekend newsletter, The Next Wave. We're pumped! In today's edition: -Internet shutdown -Digital archiving -Netflix & Youtube

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Can the government really block internet access in Nigeria? That's a question I heard a lot on Wednesday. As protests in Nigeria enter day 7, you get the sense that the Nigerian government is desperate for an end to the status quo. The protest is attracting a lot of media attention and like I said yesterday, a lot of that traction for the protest is from social media. So, it is not really far fetched that the government may consider an internet shutdown. After all, it is a government that has spent some time trying to pass a bill to regulate social media. I won't put an internet shutdown past them. Where have we seen this before? Internet shutdowns are a pretty common strategy on the African continent. In July, I wrote about internet shutdowns in Ethiopia which lasted for eight days. The Ethiopian government shut down the internet because of protests over the death of the musician and activist, Hachalu Hundessa. Guinea, Burundi, Cameroon and Liberia are some other African countries that have shut down the internet at some point. In 2018, we created this timeline of internet blockages in Africa and if some of the rumors are to be believed, Nigeria may join that timeline soon. How would that work? If Nigeria decides to shut down the internet, it would be the first time it would use that strategy. From some of the conversations I had on Wednesday, many people have no idea how an internet shutdown will play out. Thankfully, Alex swung into action and wrote this article on how internet shutdowns work, as well as how you can stay connected if it ever happens. My hunch says an internet shutdown will not happen in Nigeria, but desperate governments have been known to be irrational. After all, Ethiopia shut down internet weeks after it started the process to open up its telecoms industry to foreign telecoms companies.
"Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." Protesters in Nigeria have had to deal with fake news and misinformation in the last week. Some of that misinformation has been spread by traditional media houses that should know better. In fact, an aide to the Lagos state governor, in a thread that has now been deleted, claimed that protesters shot and killed three policemen in Lagos. Thanks to video evidence, those claims have easily been proved to be false. But a lot of people are tired of being reactionary whenever traditional media outlets drop the ball. Protesters want to tell their own stories and ensure that when we look back at this moment twenty years from now, all the facts will line up. Digital platforms are helping to create history This week, Kay's column, My Life In Tech took a break from regular scheduling to talk about platforms that are documenting the protests. The Police Brutality in Nigeria (POBIN) Project, GistAudio, Sorosoke are some of the platforms documenting the present in a range of formats. Read all about their important work in Kay's article.
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South Africa's ministry of communications and digital technologies is proposing new changes that would directly affect Netflix and Youtube. A government white paper published last week is making these proposals:
  • Internet streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video and Apple TV will require licences to operate in South Africa
  • There would be two classes of licences: individual and class licences
  • While Youtube will not require a licence, it will have to follow new regulations around hate speech, incitement to violence, etc.
  • Broadcasting service providers will be required to to carry SABC channels
  • For DStv, it will be required to make "key national sporting events" free to air

Why is South Africa rethinking broadcasting regulations? The short answer is the digital economy. Countries all over the world are beginning to have conversations about how to tax or generate some form of revenue from digital companies. But it helps to know that, in South Africa, these changes may be some way off. Where have we seen broadcasting regulations recently? Nigeria. The sixth amendment to Nigeria's broadcasting code ends content exclusivity for broadcasters. That means that DStv would be forced to share whatever exclusive sport contents it pays for with other broadcasters. It's pretty hard to see how this will function in practice in Nigeria but South Africa's regulations seem a lot more realistic. Go deeper: read all about South Africa's proposed broadcasting regulations.
How often do people who start their careers in a beer company build a payment-processing company loved by 60,000 businesses in Nigeria? Not very often, you will agree. You’ll probably even ask "What are the odds?" For the next episode of Building From Ground Up on Friday, October 23, we’ll be having a conversation with one person who has conquered those odds. The event is powered by the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub. Shola Akinlade is co-founder and CEO of Paystack, a payments-middleman between ambitious African businesses and their customers in different parts of the world, that has raised over $11m in funding. Register for this session here.
Get entrepreneur passes to The Africa Debate event for an opportunity to connect with leading investors and businesses from Actis, Development Partners International, Emerging Capital Partners, TLCom Capital, Helios Investment Partners, CDC Group, and many more. The Africa Debate is the flagship event of Invest Africa and is a key fixture in the diary for anyone investing and operating across Africa. Apply here.
West African startups raised over $1.8 billion between 2010 and 2019, with online retail startups accounting for over half of the amount. To find out more about the activities of startups in the region, origin of founders and types of investors they attracted over the last 10 years, buy a copy of the West African Startup Decade Report here.

- Olumuyiwa

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