Although the incredible idea, especially in today’s digital age is relatively new, it is one that citizens have always longed for, as internet has now become an essential commodity for all.
Google, during the recently held Google for Nigeria event, revealed that its decision to provide high speed, high quality, Wi-Fi hotspots in places with high influx of people, such as the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Computer Village Ikeja Lagos, The Palms Shopping Mall Lekki, University of Lagos, Ikeja City Mall and LandMark Events Centre is aimed at helping more people in Nigeria, and across Africa, benefit from the vast opportunities available on the web.
“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.”
The company is also looking to partner with other internet service providers (ISPs) to roll out this service in various locations and cities across the country.
Although the idea of free Wi-Fi across the country seems too good to be true, especially as Google is offering unlimited usage. It is a welcome idea, as information technology (IT) stakeholders say it is long overdue, particular as cities such as Lagos and Abuja aim to become Smart Cities.
In fact, countries like the Philippines are looking to establish a law to make compulsory, free internet in public spaces. In European countries and the United States, public libraries, airports, parks, museums and even train stations have free Wi-Fi connection.
The benefits of free internet connection in public places are limitless and so are the detriments, as not all free Wi-Fi are safe to use. However, Google has assured maximum security to avoid phishing scams, hacking and data theft while using its Google stations.
With this, experts project that Nigeria will have more than 100 million internet users by the end of 2019; up from 90 million in 2018. The numbers for smartphone ownership will also see drastic increase to about 23 million smartphones by next year.
Imagine returning from a trip with no Nigerian mobile SIM or no credit on your phone, and still being able to book an Uber or call your family on FaceTime or Whatsapp using the free Wi-Fi at the airport. Or waiting for a friend at the mall and still being able to do some work on your laptop or mobile phone using the free Wi-Fi.
In addition to the incredible launch of Google station, Google is also making search more powerful for ordinary Africans. Job Search launched in March in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, and is now rolling out in 29 new countries. In Nigeria, Google is launching a search experience that allows users to explore health conditions based on symptoms, as well as recipe search for anyone who needs a little food inspiration.
StreetView’s Discover Nigeria gallery has been expanded to include more of Nigeria’s wonders including the National Museum in Lagos, Olumo Rock in Abeokuta, Millenium Park in Abuja, and Lekki Conservation Centre.