Nigeria, the most populous country on the African continent will be the first in Africa to receive Google’s free public Wi-Fi service. This new initiative will see millions of Nigerians have access to Wi-Fi hotspots across five Nigerian cities; Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kaduna, Enugu, and Ibadan. The hubs will be located in places like the markets, transport hubs, shopping malls and universities, and the initiative is due to be up and running by the end of 2019.
The nation’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo gave a keynote speech at a Google for Nigeria event on Thursday July 26 2018, where he spoke at length about the initiative and the importance of technology in Nigeria and how it can help push Nigeria’s economy forward and assist in the dire employment issues young graduates are currently facing.
“First, it means that Google and 21st Century will be providing free Wi-Fi access in several public spaces in Nigeria. More exciting is that several of our markets will benefit from this free internet access”
“If we do not change the trajectory of socio-economic development, we would have millions of jobless young people in the prime of their lives, and as we will see, largely illiterate and/or poorly trained. The workforce will be ill-equipped to man any industrial revolution or take advantage [of the] scale of technology. The anger, disillusionment, and hopelessness of these young people will drive social unrest, compel more desperate migration northwards and present a fertile recruiting ground for extremist groups. If social conditions remain tenuous, even the well-educated will be tempted into migration and contribute further to the brain drain.”
“In Nigeria, we cannot train our nearly 200 million young people by 2045, in classrooms alone. It is impossible! We must use the internet and even mobile telephony. We must connect our young people to knowledge and innovation all over the world. Co-creation efforts of innovators and inventors require broadband to be consummated”.
Google Nigeria’s Director Juliet Chiazor stated that the aim of the development is to help more Nigerians and in large more Africans to have access to better opportunities from the world-wide web.
“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” she said.
Currently, most Nigerians access the internet using their mobile phone and network, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with GSM internet subscription in Nigeria rising over 98 million in 2017.
The ultimate aim for both Google and Nigeria is to produce a ‘data driven digital economy’. This new move will put Nigerians on that path and hopefully give them the tools they need to unlock any hidden talents and potentials. We have seen what the push of technology can do for many nations across the world, such as China and India. Therefore, there is no reason why Nigeria cannot be part of that innovative and groundbreaking group.