French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron
Google launched a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots in Nigeria on Thursday, part of its effort to increase its presence in Africa’s most populous nation.
The U.S. technology firm owned by Alphabet Inc has partnered with Nigerian fibre cable network provider 21st Century to provide its public Wi-Fi service, Google Station, in six places in the commercial capital Lagos, including the city’s airport.
Internet penetration is relatively low in Nigeria. Some 25.7 percent of the population made use of the internet in 2016, according to World Bank Data.
We are rolling out the service in Lagos today but the plan is to quickly expand to other locations.
The poor internet infrastructure is a major challenge for businesses operating in the country, which is Africa’s largest oil producer. Broadband services are either unreliable or unaffordable to many of Nigeria’s 190 million inhabitants.
“We are rolling out the service in Lagos today but the plan is to quickly expand to other locations,” Anjali Joshi, Google’s vice president for product management, told Reuters in Lagos.
The company said it aimed to collaborate with internet service providers to reach millions of Nigerians in 200 public spaces, across five cities by the end of 2019.
It said it would generate cash from the service in Nigeria by placing Google adverts in the login portal. Google did not disclose the amount invested in the new Nigeria service.
The technology firm said it planned to share revenues with its partners to help them maintain and deploy the Wi-Fi service but did not disclose the expected advertising revenue split.
Africa’s rapid population growth, falling data costs and heavy adoption of mobile phones has made it an attractive investment prospect for technology companies.
Nigeria is the fifth country to launch Google Station. Similar services have been launched in India, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand.
The service is aimed at countries with rapidly expanding populations. The United Nations estimates Nigeria will be the world’s third most populous nation, after China and India, by 2050.
“A lot of people who found data to be too expensive for them to use, are using it,” said Joshi. “In India, we have tens of millions of users, and close to a million in Mexico.”
However, many do not disclose how profitable the continent’s markets are, or if they make the companies money at all.
Last year, Google announced plans to train 10 million Africans in online skills within five years. It also said it aimed to provide $3 million in equity-free support to African start-ups.
Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters this month to meet the company’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai.
Three among 11 Nigerian secondary school students have qualified to participate in this year’s World Adolescent Robotics competition, which holds this month in China.
The China Association of Science and Technology has reached out to the three students who will be representing Nigeria at the competition.
The students, Tawakalitu Giwa, Oluwaseun Omotayo and Ayomide Adetunji, were members of Team Nigeria to the First Global Robotic Olympics in Washington DC, in the United States(US) in 2017 and they were sponsored by Aramex and Doculand Nigeria.
Their performance at the Washington competition earned them the opportunity to be invited by the China Association to participate in this year’s competition.
The students were picked based on their outstanding performance at the First Global Robotic Olympics where Nigeria placed 25th out of the 163 teams from 157 countries, emerging third out of the 41 African countries in attendance. The three students left Nigeria for China recently.
Similarly, five secondary school students will be representing Nigeria at the next First Global Robotic Olympics coming up in Mexico City this August, while another three students will be representing Nigeria at the Pan African Robotic Competition holding in Senegal this week.
Founded by philanthropic inventor, Dean Kamen to inspire a passion for science and technology leadership and innovation among the world’s more than two billion youths, FIRST Global provides the framework for an Olympics-style robotics event that drives home the importance of obtaining the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills needed by future leaders to overcome the greatest challenges facing the world today and tomorrow.
National Coordinator, of the programme and CEO, Roboglobal Educational Consulting, Mrs. Remi Willoughby, said: “Without any doubt Nigeria is slowly but gradually establishing herself on the map of technology developed nations. This may not be presently evident; however, it is an indication that progress is being made.”
According to her, “we have the right talents to compete successfully on the global stage and move Nigeria to a technology advanced nation, but we need the right support and encouragement and to do this, we need to quickly address the evident deficit in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in our educational system.”