Aftermath of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s trip to Silicon Valley in Califoria, United States, with some Nigerian tech entrepreneurs, Google has announced it would launch a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots in 200 locations and five cities across Nigeria by the end of 2019.
The development comes as part of Professor Osinbajo’s efforts to attract investments into Nigeria’s burgeoning tech space and .boost the country’s tech industry.
The initiative, which is in partnership with Nigerian fiber optic telecoms service provider 21st Century, will roll out Wi-Fi spots at public places such as colleges, malls, markets and bus stations.
Speaking at the Google for Nigeria event, Professor Osinbajo said, “Africa is confronted with existential challenges, and there is simply no time to waste in resolving these problems. The answer that providence has given us is technology.”
He added: “The great purveyors of technology such as our hosts today Google, and their collaborators – 21st Century Technologies Limited and Backbone Connectivity Network (BCN), are not mere corporations in search of profit and some social good, they literarily hold the future of generations of humanity in their hands.”
According to the Vice President, the partnership is particularly important to the country “because we have in the past one year, in our energizing markets project, been providing solar power to markets and economic clusters across the country.
“We have done extensive work in Ariaria market in Aba, Sabongari in Kano, Gbagi market in Ibadan, Sura here in Lagos, and we are starting out in Iponri, and Balogun markets.”
In her remarks, Country Director, Google Nigeria, Juliet Chiazor, said, “Today, at our second Google for Nigeria event, we announced more products and programs to help more people in Nigeria and across Africa benefit from the opportunities the web has to offer.
“Google Station will be rolling out in 200 locations in five cities across Nigeria by the end of 2019, bringing Wi-Fi to millions of people. Sites will include markets, transport hubs, shopping malls, universities and more.”
Earlier, Professor Osinbajo had inaugurated the Advisory Group on Technology and Creativity, a subset of theNational Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council established by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017. The committee members comprise private sector players with roots in technology operation. Also, the Vice President’s entourage to Silicon Valley comprises a number of tech-savvy entrepreneurs from that advisory board.
Osinbajo, at the inauguration of the advisory board, lauded the impact of technology towards driving down unemployment in the country. He noted that the board would formulate policies, programmes and projects for the Technology and Creative sectors of the country’s economy.
Similarly, Vice President Osinbajo, announced he will launch a Climate Innovation Center in partnership with the Enterprise Development Center at the Lagos Business School.
This according to him forms part of the nation’s ICT roadmap, in which the private sector is an important stakeholder.
His words: “Our goal is to create a data-driven digital economy; one that will lead the way not just in Africa, but globally as well. And I believe strongly that Nigeria is on the right path.
“We have the people, the talent, we have a government that sees the potential very clearly, and is showing the determination to unlock that potential.”