In Nigeria, Facebook’s Disturbance Reveals a Risk Management
Tomiwa Ibukunle, a The 21-year-old businessman in Lagos, Nigeria, started his clothing and accessories business two months ago. He uses WhatsApp to advertise his products and process orders from customers, typically receiving 20 orders per day. But on October 5, when WhatsApp in the world (along with other Facebook platforms) in eight hours, his business hit big. “I just started my brand, and I use WhatsApp for Business because it’s so easy. But if I can’t access it, I start to worry because now I’m still putting the new things I’ve got on my situation and sent some of my customers, ”Ibukunle said. “I ended the day with five orders, and was wondering where I would start from if WhatsApp stayed, because that’s where all the customers are.”
Even if the loss of Facebook is a hassle for many users in the U.S. and Europe, its effects are felt even more severely in other parts of the world, where the company and its platforms are completely dominant. In Nigeria, WhatsApp is the main means of family communication at home and abroad, and is also used for business. More than 95 percent in Nigeria’s 33 million social media users use the platform. Having everyone on the same platform can be easy, but the outage shows that Nigeria’s reliance on the app can be detrimental — and it’s time to look at alternatives.
Going to WhatsApp in Nigeria, the merger is feared, accompanied by rumors that the service will not return. “I sent a message to my daughter, and it didn’t deliver. I thought it was a network issue until my nephew told me not to,” said Nkechinyere Peters, who lives in Umuahia,. “That’s the time I’m worried about, because WhatsApp is our main means of communication. What if something happens and he wants to call me? Or do I need help from someone important?” Worse, Peters has heard that WhatsApp will be removed completely. “I believe,” he said. “Everything around me.” The belief that the instant messaging app will never come back causes many to worry, unsure of what to do – and how they will communicate – if the rumor turns out to be true.
Some people who have families far away from them have similar fears. “My grandmother is old and sick,” said Chiamaka Eze, who is Nigerian but lives in Benin. “And as his favorite grandson, he would rarely call me when my parents or staff weren’t there to help him choose his drug. Wrong drug because he was home alone.”
Outages like this not only stop communication, but also put people at risk, as many important services are provided through the platform. For example, WhatsApp hosts a 24-hour hotline in Mentally Aware Nigeria for people seeking advice or emergency assistance. Last year, BAIL magazine reported more than 10,000 people talked to MANI from 2016.
And when it comes to business, WhatsApp is the preferred platform, on Instagram and Facebook Marketplace. WhatsApp supports business profiles and virtual catalogs that search customers for information on the products or services they want. It has become popular with merchants because customers trust the platform, because “they see things in real time as we add them to our situation. There’s also a kind of closeness to seeing in our conversations. a private space, “said Orji Eke, a fashion designer. But the advantages that WhatsApp for Business offers are moot – and the merchants who rely on it are ruined – once the service is short.
Atsu Davoh, CEO and founder of BitSika, a payment app that helps people send money across countries, says a company that controls WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook is a time bomb for dependents of these services almost. “If we want to think of a real solution for the future,” he said, “situations like this make a good case for decentralization.”
WhatsApp is successful because a lot of people are here, but there are other options. For people living in Nigeria, the alternatives to WhatsApp messaging app come with Telegram or Signal. These apps have privacy features not available in WhatsApp and have an open source API. Homegrown apps like SoftTalk Messenger are also available. SoftTalk offers a service for calling internationally directly from the app, and has a purchase feature as well.
The outage showed that Nigerians would have to switch to other apps, but for this to happen, there would have to be attractive options that would reach the standard of traditional Nigerians. Investors should be investors in local apps and those that haven’t been improved – such an investment is sure to have other options, and it’s possible that communication will be possible the next time it happens.
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