Google Launches Network Of Free Public Internet Spaces In Nigeria

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

 

Google has launched a network of free public internet spaces in Nigeria in order to provide access for more people across Africa’s most populous country.

Beginning with a handful of hotspots, Google is aiming to collaborate with internet service providers in order to provide free internet for millions of Nigerians in 200 public spaces across five cities by the end of 2019, according to ITWebAfrica.

The public internet service is known as Google Station, and the U.S. technology firm has partnered with Nigerian fibre cable network provider 21st Century to launch the first six locations, which are in the commercial capital Lagos, including the city’s airport.

With a population of around 195 million people, most of whom are young millennials, there is a large African market potential for Google and its many products and services in Nigeria.

One of the obstacles to greater adoption of Google services in the West African nation is its low internet penetration, with only 25.7 percent of the population having access to the internet in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Nigeria is the fifth country to launch Google Station, which is designed for countries with rapidly growing populations, following successful launches of the free internet initiative in India, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand, according to ChannelAfrica.

Free public internet as Google focuses on Nigeria once again

Google continues to focus its efforts on establishing a strong presence across Africa, with Nigeria in particular benefiting from a number of initiatives that take the people of the country into account.

In September last year, Google launched a mentorship program focused on supporting African tech entrepreneurs, with a new Google Launchpad space made available in Nigeria.

Google Developers Launchpad Africa, which operate from the new space in Lagos, is a mentorship program that aims to provide tech startups based in Africa with tools to build sustainable businesses, according to IOL.

The Google Launchpad Space in Nigeria was the first onsite location for the program outside of the U.S.

free internet
Google CEO Sundar Pichai appreciates Africa as an important market for the company. Photo – AP Photo -Jeff Chiu

Earlier in July Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai during a three-day visit to the U.S. that was aimed at promoting Nigeria’s tech and entertainment sectors, according to Ventureburn.

The Nigerian politician is meeting with tech and entertainment stakeholders in the U.S. to showcase the growth and investment potential of these sectors in his country. His three-day trip, described as a public-private sector collaborative investment road show, saw him travel to Silicon Valley in San Francisco and Hollywood, California.

A cornerstone of his trip to Silicon Valley was the meeting with Google CEO Pichai, who tweeted that it was a pleasure to welcome Osinbajo to the Google headquarters.

“Happy to welcome the Vice President of Nigeria @ProfOsinbajo to the Googleplex today – great to chat with him about the opportunities of Nigeria’s digital economy,” Pichai tweeted.

But it has not been all about Nigeria for Google, as another West African nation was recently selected as the location for another innovative research hub for the company.

In June, Google announced that it will be establishing an artificial intelligence research center in Accra, Ghana later this year — a first for the company on the continent, according to Quartz.

Expert machine learning researchers and engineers will work together at the new AI research center in Accra which will be dedicated to artificial intelligence research and its applications in a wider African context.

The research center will focus on using artificial intelligence applications in areas that include healthcare, agriculture and education.