Google LLC, the American multinational technology giant, has extended its station initiative to Nigeria with the opening of five new Google stations in Lagos, the commercial hub of the country. The opening is part of Google’s plan to give millions of Nigerians access to internet services across different places in the country. The initiative was launched in an event tagged; “Google for Nigeria” which was held at the Landmark event center, Victoria Island, Lagos on Thursday.

The event was the second of its kind in the country and witnessed the presence of technology enthusiasts, developers, programmers and government officials in the country sit under one roof to witness the wonders of the internet and the future of technology.

At the opening,  Google stated that its station will provide fast and reliable internet access to users at no cost to over 10 million people in the state. The Google Stations which were opened in five strategic locations – Ikeja City Mall, The Palms Lekki, Computer Village, MMA2 Domestic Airport Terminal and Landmark Event Centre-  in Lagos and was launched in partnership with a Nigeria fiber network provider, 21st Century Technologies.

While addressing the people that graced the event, Anjali Joshi, who is Vice President, Product Management, Google reiterated his company ’s commitment to ensuring internet-users who make use of Google applications and other products are not hindered from using these products due to unavailability of stable internet.

“…We are building our apps to make sure users with limited internet access can use them and get the same experience without the data stress,” he said during the event in Lagos. Mr. Anjali also announced that the stations will be spread to six more cities in the country before the end of 2019.

Google top officials who were present at the event unveiled a collection of new applications that will be made available in the coming days for smartphone users. These high-end applications allow users to have a great experience while surfing the internet. They include; Street View, Google Go, Youtube Go, Google Maps Go and Android Go.

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo during his keynote address expressed his delight over the decision by Google to provide internet access to cities across the world, most importantly, market areas that have a large concentration of the poor. Osinbanjo visited the technology giant headquarters during his visit to the US last week to attract investors, and many believe this is a proof of Nigeria’s readiness to give greater opportunities in technology.

“First, it means that Google and 21st Century, will be providing free WiFi access in several public spaces in Nigeria, more exciting is that several of our markets will benefit from this free internet access,” he said during the event.

“…But the most profound implication is that internet access is becoming available to some of the poorest in society. What access to information, tools of education, business or commerce means is that gaps of inequality and exclusion are bridged. Jobs are created and in many important respects, there is a real chance of better quality of life for large numbers of our people.”

The first Google Station was announced in 2016 in India in partnership with the India Railways. Since then, Google has launched similar initiatives in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico, with Nigeria emerging as the first African country to enjoy this free internet service in Africa.

Great news for Internet Users

The impact of Google Stations will disrupt the country’s internet circle in coming days. Internet in Nigeria is sickly and has remained one of the most discussed issues among smartphone users due to the sub-standard services customers get while surfing the internet.

Nigeria’s Internet speed ranked 114 out of 143 countries while Kenya with the internet speed at 12.2Mbps is ranked as the highest in Africa. Nigeria internet speed which is 3.9Mbps also falls below the global standard of 7.2Mbps.

While internet users in other parts of Nigeria continue to warm up for the Google Station, businesses that are ICT embedded in Lagos will certainly receive a massive boost in productivity.

Better internet connectivity would also have an effect on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. The World Bank has indicated that broadband Internet connectivity is a key catalyst for economic growth with every 10 percent increase in connectivity enabling a 1.38 percent growth in GDP.

With Nigeria’s $68 billion telecoms sector, over 40 million people are still not connected to the internet despite efforts to make better the activities of internet operators in the country. Nigeria is also ranked among the countries with low internet services despite the rise in the number of people using the internet in Africa’s most populous country.

Google Station with it’s free and high-quality services will address some of the age-long debates in the country. In recent times, the price of internet data bundles has gained strength with little or no corresponding quality service. In fact, these services have grown to be considered as a luxury especially among the country’s poor population.

The availability of internet services in certain locations will aid production and also serve as a link between businesses and customers in far places. Also, the availability of a Google Station within a university environment will improve learning and give students a trove of information, along with access to vast resources. It will also see Nigeria join the revolution that encourages students to explore different learning experiences outside the classroom. Lastly, millions of Nigerians who trade and transact business across different commercial hubs in the country will also receive a boost courtesy of Google.

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