Following the Nigerian government’s announcement on Friday, June 4, that it had suspended the country’s access to Twitter, a reaction to the company’s decision to delete a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, there have been conversations about the possible fallouts from that move.
Now, a new development has arisen. In the (temporary or permanent) absence of Twitter in Africa’s most populous nation, some have seen a whole new business opportunity. Microblogging site, Koo, which has been described as India’s alternative to twitter, is making moves to replace the Jack Dorsey-led app in Nigeria.
Only one day after the ban took effect, the company’s co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna, unironically, took to Twitter to announce that they were now available in Nigeria.
“@kooindia is available in Nigeria. We’re thinking of enabling the local languages there too. What say?” he tweeted.
Koo prides itself on its dedication to providing multiple language options for its users in various countries. The social media app also allows users to express their thoughts in 400 maximum character, one-minute clips (video or audio), direct messaging, localized hashtags, and news feeds.
In recent times, Koo has been witnessing an expansion of its reach, especially in the wake of nationalist support. Its presence in India is seen as a possible, definitive replacement should the ongoing rift between the Indian government and Twitter continue. In August 2020, the app received state support in form of endorsement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a public address.
Koo has also gained the support of influential figures in India such as Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka Dr. CN Ashwathnarayan, Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad, cricketers Anil Kumble and Javagal Shrinath, and spiritual teacher Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, among others. As at April 2021, the app had gained 5.2 million users, just a year after going live in March 2020.
Just last month, Koo raised $30 million from marquee investors, multiplying its overall valuation five times over. In response to the success of the fundraising efforts, Radhakrishna confirmed the company’s global expansion aims, saying “We have aggressive plans to grow into one of the world’s largest social media platforms in the next few years.”
It is uncertain how long Nigeria’s ban on Twitter would last for, but the Carlifornia-based app is keen on resolving the problem soon.
“We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society,” Twitter’s official account noted. “We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world”.
Kanyinsola Olorunnisola is a journalist, social critic and literary enthusiast. He is the recepient of the 2017 Fisayo Soyombo National Essay Prize, the 2020 Speculative Literary Foundation’s Diverse Writers Grant and the 2020 K&L Prize for African Literature. He is the founder of SprinNG, a platform dedicated to the development of young African writers.