Twitter made an announcement about expanding to Africa and opening a regional office in Ghana sometime in April 2021. It came as a surprise to the continent that Ghana was picked ahead of Nigeria to host Twitter’s headquarters.
The decision of the social media giant however was in view of the fact that Ghana supports “free speech, online freedom, and the open internet.” Another interesting aspect is that Ghana also acts as the African Continental Free Trade Area’s headquarters.
Most importantly, Ghana had become the route for diasporans finding their roots in Africa due to the country’s popular Year of Return tourism agenda.
With all these in consideration, the interest was well welcomed and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo put out a tweet mentioning how beautiful the partnership was critical for the development of Ghana’s tech hub.
“Thank You @mistameister”
Following Twitter’s arrival on the continent, the platform reached out to Bernard Kafui Sokpe to head partnerships across Africa, as the most qualified applicant for the position. He was chosen for his expertise, network, and competence.
Bernard has over a decade of career experience working in telecom, e-commerce, fintech, influencer marketing, digital media, showbiz and entertainment. Within a year of his role, Bernard gained spotlight for his stellar work that involved amplifying the works and voices of African public figures in the area of news, entertainment and sports — this was part of Twitter’s key business objectives — to serve public conversation.
Mr Sokpe’s first accomplishment was leading the verification of over 1,800 personalities across Africa, ensuring that African public figures and influential voices were visible and credible on the platform.
“For me the highlight of my working career is the visibility, teamwork and opportunity to impact the continent and put my people on,” Bernard revealed to theafricandream.net in a phone chat.
His influence was felt and tweets from South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria quoted “Thank You @mistameister” on his timeline, in his first weeks as Senior Partner Manager, as people and entities showed appreciation…
Twitter billboards across Ghana
Bernard played an instrumental role in an outdoor campaign that launched Twitter’s presence on the continent.
Twitter Ghana strategically selected tweets that celebrated Ghanaian identity, captured humour, fun, or culture, and placed them on billboards across Ghana. The campaign brought tweets to live in a very public way.
“It’s the people that make the platform relevant. So we felt the best way to celebrate Twitter is to celebrate the tweets of the people,” said Bernard to theafricandream.net about the billboard ads initiative.
As part of Bernard’s umbrella theme to promote Africa, he launched the first ever #Africatotheworld hashmoji to spotlight African influencers and voices positively impacting their respective communities.
It was launched during Burna boy’s iconic Madison Square Garden sell out event in April.
He made sure that Africa received significant publicity throughout his one year of employment at the social media giant, garnering millions of views and impressions.
“The Africa to the world hashmoji evolved something in the spirit of supporting an existing #Twittervoices campaign crew. I can’t claim credit alone and feel it’s important to celebrate the fact that the campaign's goals were achieved with that team. And the lead for #Twittervoices — Bukky Ojeifo — and her team were all very instrumental in this success story,” said Bernard.
Twitter’s exit from Africa
In October 2022, billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk purchased Twitter after a $44 billion take over. Although there had been a commitment to Africa, it all came crumbling within weeks of purchase with Musk’s summary dismissals.
On November 1, 2022, Senior Partner Manager, Bernard Sokpe at Twitter’s Africa HQ posted on twitter about him and his colleagues having a new physical office to work from following their remote work for a year.
“A year ago Twitter entered Africa via Ghana. Today we officially opened Twitter’s Africa HQ in Accra, and for the first time all Tweeps in the region left their home desks and convened to work as #OneTeam. Worth celebrating amidst all the back to back news headlines,” Bernard tweeted.
Three days later, the scenario took a different turn. Bernard’s time at Twitter had ended amidst the job cuts by new owner Elon Musk, and his last day at the company was November 4, 2022. Evidence to Bernard’s hardwork and the love from the continent can be culled from the quotes on this tweet.
When the news of his departure from Twitter began to spread online Bernard received a lot of encouraging messages on the platform based on how well people felt he had done his job and. He told theafricandream.net that: “At the end of the day it was a great job and I am very grateful for the opportunity I received to play my small role in this big picture. I believe the future is bright so wherever I end up, history will judge me well.”
Written by Oral Ofori