Nigeria, like many other countries, is grappling with the challenge of providing affordable and accessible internet to its citizens. In recent years, there have been calls for the government to provide free internet in public places such as airports, parks, libraries, and government buildings.
With a population of over 220 million, according to Worldometer, there were just 122.5 million internet users in Nigeria as at January 2023, Datareportal revealed. Nigeria’s internet penetration rate stood at 55.4 percent of the total population at the start of 2023.
However, the question remains: can free internet in public places work in a country like Nigeria? Free internet in public places has already been implemented in some countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, and some parts of Europe.
The idea behind this is to make the internet more accessible to people who may not be able to afford it, and to bridge the digital divide. In Nigeria, where internet penetration is still low and the cost of data is high, free internet in public places could help to increase access to information and services.
However, several challenges need to be addressed before this limitless internet access in public places can become a reality in Nigeria.
The first challenge is infrastructure. Nigeria’s internet infrastructure is still underdeveloped, and there are many areas where there is little or no internet connectivity. In order to provide free internet in public places, there needs to be a reliable and robust internet infrastructure that can support the increased demand.
Another challenge is funding, as such move will require a significant investment from the government or private sector. In a country like Nigeria where resources are limited, it may be difficult to find the funding needed to implement such a project.
The cost of maintaining and sustaining free internet in public places is also a challenge, as the government may not be able to sustain the service in the long run.
Security is also a concern. Providing free and limitless internet in public places could make it easier for cybercriminals to target unsuspecting users. There need to be adequate security measures in place to protect users from cyber threats.
Despite these challenges, there are some potential benefits to providing free internet in public places in Nigeria. For example, it could help to increase access to education and information, as well as improve communication and collaboration among citizens. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can take advantage of the opportunities that the internet provides to grow their businesses. This would, in turn, create more job opportunities and increase the country’s GDP. It could also boost tourism by providing free internet to visitors in tourist hotspots.
In conclusion, free internet in public places has the potential to improve access to information and services in Nigeria. However, these challenges need to be addressed before it can become a reality.
The government and private sector need to work together to address these challenges and find a sustainable way to make this happen. With the right investment and support, free internet in public places could help to bridge the digital divide and improve the lives of millions of Nigerians, a game-changer for the country.