By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, inaugurated the Google Station Initiative at Wuse Market, Abuja, aimed at providing free public Wi-Fi service.
The Google Station was hosted in partnership with Backbone Connectivity Network (BCN), a Nigerian web hosting solution provider.
Osinbajo said that the event was a very exciting one for him.
He added that a couple of months ago, he was at the Google office at the Silicon Valley and was told about the Google Station Free Wifi in Railway stations in India.
He said that “the chief executive officer of Google was talking about this and I said if you could put this in railway stations in India, then you must put them in markets in Nigeria.
“I am sure at the time that he wasn’t quite certain what markets would look like but we agreed on principle to have been working on it since then.
“It is incredible that today we have here at the Wuse market, free wi-fi facilities in fulfillment of that promise that was made two, three months ago.
“ One of the key reasons why it is important for us to do this is because of our own policy as a government to ensure that we democratise access in various ways so that the man on the street, the common man, can have access to the things that other people have.
“That informs our putting power, solar power in markets. We were in Sabon Gari market the other day, where 39 shops were powered by solar power and also by bio-fuel power.’’
According to him, solar power has been provided to Sabon Gari market in Kano, Ariaria market in Aba, Sura market in Lagos and several other markets.
He added that the more Nigerians had access to the internet and connectivity, the better for the country.
The vice president thanked Google and BCN for the gesture, saying that the Federal Government was looking forward to more collaboration and co-operation with them.
Saidu Abdullahi, Head of Partnerships, Next Billion Users, Sub Saharan Africa, Google, said that the station had been launched in five countries and Nigeria was the first in Africa.
He said “I am very thankful to the vice president for his support; it has been launched in Lagos; it has been launched now in Abuja.
“Our teams are also currently in Mexico, India, Thailand, and Indonesia; I must say that the best connections that we have seen; interactions we have seen in terms of time people spend on the internet in terms of interaction come from Nigeria.
“That is a very positive story; it is something that is very encouraging for Google, as well as Google’s partners.
“It shows that we are in the right step; we just need to partner more to increase access.”
Osinbajo, shortly thereafter, went round the market to access the performance of the TraderMoni, a micro-credit scheme for petty traders.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that it was a carnival-like atmosphere as the crowd drummed and danced as the vice president went from shop to shop and from line to line interacting with the traders. (NAN)