Google has announced plans to roll out hi-quality, hi-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in 200 locations across five cities in Nigeria by the end of 2019.
At the second Google for Nigeria event held in Lagos, the internet giant announced Google Station for Nigeria that it would make available Wi-Fi to millions of people in partnership with 21st Century, one of the largest fibre network providers in Nigeria.
According to Anjali Joshi, VP Product Management at Google, the program is part of efforts to fix connectivity challenges in the country. Country Director, Google Nigeria, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor added that access to the internet in Africa is growing but it’s limited, “Only 35 percent of Africans have access to the web, compared to 48 percent in Asia, 67 in Latin America, 85 in Europe and 95 in North America. Many internet users in Africa don’t have Wi-Fi in their homes, relying instead on the few public Wi-Fi hotspots to connect, communicate and learn”. Sites will include markets, transport hubs, shopping malls, universities and more.
The free Wi-Fi hotspots are currently available at the Landmark Centre, The Palms Mall, Ikeja Mall, MMA2 Domestic Airport Terminal, all in Lagos State. Nigeria is the fifth country where the Google Station has been launched, after India, Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico.
Google also announced other products and programmes aimed at helping more people in the country explore more opportunities that the web has to offer. Despite launching Google Go –an app that makes it easy for people to discover the best of the internet, even on low RAM smartphones or unstable network connections—in April, the company announced a new feature that reads web pages out loud and highlights each word so that you can follow along. It is an interesting feature for people who do a lot of hands-on jobs, as they can let the phone do the work and Google read for them.
The company is also launching a new search experience that allows you to explore health conditions based on symptoms and recipe search experience to help people explore popular meals when you need them. On Google Maps Go, a navigation feature that allows users with low memory phones or unstable network connections navigate turn-by-turn directions whether you’re travelling by car, by bus or on foot, was launched. The interesting one, with the launch of more Nigerian landmarks and natural wonders on street view, Nigerians can now virtually tour the National Museum in Lagos, Olumo Rock in Abeokuta, the Millenium Park in Abuja, Lekki Conservation Centre and many others—all from the phone.