Just two days after a ban on Twitter, he Nigerian Presidency has reached out to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) to discuss plans to build an internet firewall. The Nigerian Federal Government is looking to gain control over what Nigerians can access on the Internet.
With China’s Great Firewall allowing the Chinese government to prevent access to social media platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, any other website it chooses and block its citizens from using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), the Nigerian government hopes to achieve same with the proposed project in Nigeria.
Recall that on June 4, 2021, the Nigerian government enforced a ban on Twitter, stating that the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
The Nigerian government has in the past also made power moves concerning the use of social media. In 2019, Nigerian lawmakers introduced two controversial and heavily criticized bills: The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and other Related Offences bill (Social Media Bill) and the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech bill.
Nigeria’s Finance Act 2020 also contains a legal provision to tax tech giants like Google and Facebook for the revenue they make from the country.
If the Nigerian Internet Firewall comes to fruition, Internet censorship of Nigerians, social media regulations, and taxation might become possible.
Figures from Nigeria’s Debt Management Office show that Nigeria’s debt to China grew 136% between September 2015 and September 2020, from $1.4 billion to $3.3 billion. Consequently, this partnership with China could extend to much more than just building an Internet firewall.