Search giant Google has announced that it plans to roll out as many as 200 free public wi-fi hotspots in African nation Nigeria by the end of the decade.
As part of the internet company’s efforts to bring in more customers to its services, it has partnered with 21st Century Technology, a fibre optic cable provider in Nigeria, to deliver free wi-fi access to the public.
The project has been named ‘Google Station’ and it will be available in around six different areas in the country’s commercial capital city, Lagos. This will include the set-up of a wi-fi hotspot in the city’s airport. The Vice-President of Africa’s most populous nation, Yemi Osinbajo, had a meeting with Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, in order to discuss the project in detail.
Less than 30% of the country’s population has access to the internet on a regular basis. Despite the nation gaining considerable revenue from being a large producer and exporter of oil, these funds are not being invested in improving internet infrastructure. Even businesses in the oil industry in Nigeria struggle to get a reliable connection to the internet, which can be a challenge to their operations. Furthermore, for those who are classed as regular internet users, their subscription prices can be very expensive.
As a result of this, Google hopes to establish a number of local partners with the aim of improving these statistics. By the end of next year, the company wants to deploy internet access to more than 200 public domains across five different cities in the country. These hotspots will be placed in areas such as shopping malls, universities and transport hubs. This will see millions of people being given an internet connection.
Despite some seeing this as a gesture of goodwill by the American giant, it is a worthwhile investment for the company as it will become the dominant internet service provider in the country, and it can then insert ads to allow for a greater revenue generation.
The internet titan has said that it intends to split the ad revenue with any local partners, but has not disclosed the details of any splits. Once the set-up has been completed, Nigeria will become the fifth country to utilise Google Station Wi-Fi and will follow in the footsteps of Asian nations Indonesia, India and Thailand, as well as Mexico in Central America.