Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications, has said that the federal government will ensure free access to the internet in public places across Nigeria.
Mr Shittu said this in Abuja at a one-day stakeholders workshop on the role of the Public Internet Access for Economic Development.
“We are trying to ensure the vision of free Wi-Fi all over, particularly in public spaces, at the airport, schools and all that,” Mr. Shittu said on Tuesday.
Mr. Shittu said the government had been trying to ensure that internet accessibility is made available not just for privileged Nigerians but everyone.
“The Federal Ministry of Communication will ensure the privacy of beneficiaries of the free internet services is protected,” he said.
He said for this to be a reality, more investments are needed because the government alone cannot handle the financial responsibilities involved.
Mr. Shittu listed some of the challenges faced by the government in providing free internet services to include high cost of access, low broadband penetration, poor internet infrastructure, and poor enabling environment.
“The solutions to these challenges are beyond government’s intervention,” he said.
“In order to bridge the existing digital divide and encourage more Nigerians to participate in the global digital economy, private organisations and international partners are encouraged to support the government in different strategic ways.
“One of the models being adopted recently is the provision of free internet access by Public Internet Access Providers (PIAPs) in strategic locations to help more Nigerians connect to the internet in pursuit of social and developmental objectives for a return on investment (ROI) through advertisement or other means.
“This is expected to fuel some changes especially in creating jobs and help local SMEs compete with global brands.”