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Chinese Cyber Sovereignty & Nigeria’s #Twitterban

The Nigerian government justified the banning of Twitter on the basis of protecting the country’s national interest, security, and sovereignty. Although the move was done for purely domestic political reasons, the government’s defense is strikingly similar to the language that China pioneered more than a decade ago when it first introduced its “Cyber Sovereignty” model for internet governance.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, that Nigeria may be following China’s example by making the state a central actor in determining what its constituents can see and do online. Senior Nigerian officials for years have openly expressed admiration for China’s rigid system of internet censorship and control.

Emeka Umejei, a lecturer at the University of Ghana and an expert in Chinese media and communications, said the fact that China has been able to impose its will on the internet while at the same time fostering digital innovation presents a very appealing model for some African leaders. He joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the Nigerian Twitter ban and what connection, if any, it has with China’s approach to online sovereignty.

Show Notes:

About Emeka Umejei:

Dr. Emeka Umejei is a leading scholar of Chinese media and Chinese digital infrastructure in Africa. His book, Chinese Media in Africa: perception, Performance and Paradox, was published to wide acclaim. He is one of the authors of the Nigerian Media Landscape responsible for the segments on digital technology, innovation, traditional forms of communication, and the conclusion. He holds a master’s degree in journalism and media studies from Rhodes University in Grahamstown and a Ph.D. in journalism and media studies from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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