Google to provide free Wi-Fi in Nigeria

Google has announced that it will be providing free high-speed Internet access via Wi-Fi hotspots Nigeria. Known as Google Station for Nigeria, the program aims to provide high quality, high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots across Nigeria in partnership with 21st Century, one of the largest fibre network providers in the west Afrikan country.

free wifi google nigeria
Cover image credit: Free Wi-Fi coverage map of Google Station in Nigeria.

Google has said that this program forms part of their efforts to make the Internet more accessible to Nigerians.

“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. Sites include markets, transport hubs, shopping malls, universities, and more. Nigeria is the fifth country to get Google Station, after India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico," said Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor. Country Director for Nigeria at Google.

Free public Wi-Fi

The free public Wi-Fi announcement by Google in Nigeria was part of several announcements that the company hopes will benefit not only people in Nigeria but across Afrika. These included an update on several products from Google's “Go” initiative, which was launched in 2017. The Go product suite aims to give people with low bandwidth connections and low-RAM devices the best possible Google experience.

Some of the new Go features include:

  • Google Go: will soon read web pages out loud and highlight each word so users can follow along.

  • YouTube Go: users will be able to browse downloaded YouTube Go videos, saved as .yt files, right from the gallery on their phones.

  • Google Maps Go: will now provide users with turn-by-turn directions, whether they’re traveling by car, by bus or on foot.

  • Android Go: Launched in Nigeria and 29 other African countries earlier this year, the Go OS gives people coming online for the first time a powerful and reliable smartphone experience. Across Africa, Transsion, Nokia, Huawei, and Mobicel have launched various devices, starting under $50.

The announcement follows on a recent trip by Nigeria's Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to Silicon Valley where he also met with Google CEO, Sundar Pichai. One of the things they discussed was how to connect the next billion people in emerging markets to the Internet.

Google is not the first Big Tech company entering Nigeria with the view of supply Internet access to the public using Wi-Fi. In 2017, Tizeti, a startup with solar-powered Wi-Fi towers in Nigeria, entered into a partnership with Facebook to deploy affordable Wi-Fi services across Nigeria. The main difference between the Google offering and the Express Wi-Fi by Facebook is that the Google Station Wi-Fi is free for the public.

“We are offering new solutions to improve and expand access in Nigeria and across Africa; these launches demonstrate our commitment to Africa through products built to help people in Africa to make the most of the Internet,” said Ehimuan-Chiazor.

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