Google Nigeria has announced plans to reach more than 10 million Nigerians with free Internet access in five cities.
According to the global content provider, the Wi-Fi will be available in 200 Google stations in Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Ibadan and Abuja by 2019.
This was made known on Thursday at the second Google for Nigeria event in Lagos, where the company announced updates on its Go products suites such as Google Go, YouTube Go, Google Maps Go and Android Go.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Google stations, the Google Nigeria Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, said the initiative would address affordability and access to data as well as broadband penetration.
She stated that the free Wi-Fi was rolled out in partnership with an Internet Service Provider with extensive fibre network, 21st Century, adding that the company was open to partnerships with other ISPs and telcos.
Ehimuan-Chiazor said, “One of the challenges we found was access to data. Broadband penetration is low and are not reliable and there are challenges with affordability; just allow many Nigerians benefit from the digital economy. We are very excited to be able to launch in collaboration with partners.
“We are starting in Lagos with four sites, and the commitment is to expand to 200 sites across five cities in Nigeria by 2019. There are opportunities that are available once people get online and are able to consume information.”
Commenting on the initiative, the Vice-President, Products Management, Google, Anjali Joshi, said the initiative would be scaled to other countries in Africa.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, in his keynote address at the event, said the Federal Government was ready to support initiatives that were in line with the Information and Communications Technology road map of the country.
As part of the commitment of the government to supporting technology development, he stated that an innovation centre would be unveiled at the Enterprise Development Centre of the Lagos Business School next week.
He said the centre was part of the commitment of the Federal Government to create an ecosystem for technology development in the country.
According to him, several innovation centres have been established across the country to support technology innovation and skills development.
“We have established innovation hubs across the nation from Ventures Hub in Abuja, to Edo State Government’s Edo Innovate project in Benin and the Humanitarian Innovation Centre in collaboration with the North-East Innovation Hub and the International Committee of Red Cross. We are committed to building an ecosystem that will drive innovation. We are investing in training 5,000 developers as part of the NPower tech programme,” Osinbajo added.