-By Joseph Edun

 Google has launched a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots in Nigeria on Thursday as part of its effort to increase its presence in Africa’s most populous nation. “It is live in some locations already like the MMA 2, Ikeja City Mall, The Palms Lekki, Computer Village and the University of Lagos (UNILAG),” said Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, Google’s Nigeria Country Director who stated this in Lagos on Thursday at the second Google for Nigeria event.

     The tech giant will make available free Wi-Fi facilities in about 200 sites in Lagos and five other states in Nigeria between now and 2019. Within this period, about 10 million Nigerians, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are expected to benefit immensely from this project. The other states are Kaduna; Port Harcourt (Rivers state); Ibadan (Oyo state); Enugu and Abuja. Nigeria is the fifth country to launch Google Station, following India, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand.

     Ehimuan-Chiazor said the move was to ensure that more Nigerians participate in the digital economy and noted that the technology firm hoped to roll out Stations to as many public locations as possible, including markets, malls, bus stops, city centres, cafés and universities so that people can have a consistent Wi-Fi experience during their daily routines. She disclosed that the initiative is a long term project with the security aspect already fortified and encrypted to guard against any breaches.

        The project, which comes as Google Station, is in partnership with 21st Century, a leading ISP in Nigeria. Google Station is a service that allows Google partners to roll out Wi-Fi hotspots in public places by providing software and advice on hardware to turn fibre connections into Wi-Fi.

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