Google plans to launch free Wi-Fi hotspots in 200 locations and five cities across Nigeria by the end of this year.
The initiative, which is in partnership with Nigerian fiber optic telecoms service provider, 21st Century, will roll out free Wi-Fi spots at public places such as colleges, malls, markets and bus stations, the US technology giant says.
Juliet Chiazor, Country Director, Google Nigeria and Titi Akinsanmi, Head of Public Policy, disclosed this at a Conference and Exhibition organised by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The NITDA event hopes to encourage start-ups and facilitate ICT entrepreneurs accelerate the development and access to digital products, services to millions of Nigerians, and to ultimately create Africa’s largest single digital market by 2020 in Abuja recently, according to the government agency.
Chiazor says “Google Station will be rolling out in 200 locations in five cities across Nigeria by the end of 2019, bringing Wi-Fi to millions of people. The sites will include markets, transport hubs, shopping malls, universities and more.”
She says the developments were aftermath of Vice President Yemi Osibajo’s recent trip to the Silicon Valley in California, United States, with some Nigerian tech-savvy entrepreneurs aimed at boosting Nigeria’s technology industry by attracting investments into the burgeoning tech space.
Osibajo had then noted that Africa was confronted with existential challenges needing technology as the providential answer, noting that “The great purveyors of technology such as Google, and their collaborators like 21st Century Technologies and Backbone Connectivity Network (BCN), are not mere corporations in search of profit and some social good, they literarily hold the future of generations of humanity in their hands.”
According to him, the partnership is particularly important to the country “because we have in the past one year, in Nigeria’s energizing markets project, been providing solar power to markets and economic clusters across the country. We have done extensive work in Ariaria market in Aba, Sabongari in Kano, Gbagi market in Ibadan, Sura market in Lagos, and we are starting out in Iponri and Balogun markets.”
It would be recalled that Osinbajo had inaugurated the Advisory Group on Technology and Creativity, a subset of the National Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council established by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017, with members drawn from the private sector players with rooted in technology operation.
Similarly, Vice President Osinbajo also then hinted of FG plan to launch a Climate Innovation Center in partnership with the Enterprise Development Center at the Lagos Business School to form part of the nation’s ICT roadmap, in which the private sector is an important stakeholder.
According to the VP, “our goal is to create a data-driven digital economy; one that will lead the way not just in Africa, but globally as well. And I believe strongly that Nigeria is on the right path. We have the people, the talent, we have a government that sees the potential very clearly, and is showing the determination to unlock that potential.”