The Google Station iniitiative is already live in five countries globally and will connect millions of users via 200 Wi-Fi hotspots spread across five cities in Nigeria within one year, the company said at its Google for Nigeria event Thursday.
Google is not deploying its moonshot Project Loon to provide connectivity, instead, it is partnering with Nigerian fiber optic telecoms service provider 21st Century to roll out Wi-Fi spots at public places such as colleges, malls, markets and bus stations.
“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,” said Google Nigeria Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor.
At the launch last year, Uche Ofodile, Regional Head of Africa, Express Wi-Fi by Facebook said the initiative aims to reduce barriers to connectivity such as limited infrastructure and high data costs, giving more people, such as small business entrepreneurs and developers, the opportunity to connect and build community.
According to Web Foundation’s 2017 Affordability Report, only 17% of Nigerians with mobile internet users have access to public Wi-Fi, and the cost of a 1GB prepaid data plan is about 8% of a Nigeria’s average monthly income while the country’s mobile broadband penetration rate is below 12%.