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Google Launches Free Wifi in Nigeria—Will it Stick?

Nigerians celebrate what they hope is an end to high data costs.

There's a lot of excitement today as Nigerians anticipate free high speed Wifi services brought by Google.

Google Station is launching in Nigeria, and it promises to make free Wi-Fi facilities available in 200 sites in Lagos and five other states in the country. The facilities are going to be created between now and 2019. Google will partner with local services to build hotspots in places like markets, malls, bus stops, city centres, and cafés, and universities. The service is supposed to benefit at least 10 million Nigerians this year.

According to The Guardian, Google's vice president Anjali Joshi said that they are launching in Nigeria because the station targets countries with the "next-billion Internet users" and because the internet has "the potential to completely transform Africa." Google drive has also been launched in countries like India, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, and it strategically makes sense that the most populous country in Africa would be next.

At today's launch, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo added, "It has become increasingly clear that the provision of food and health care will depend on technology."

While the launch has been framed as transforming millions of lives in Nigeria, perhaps the real benefit lies with the companies that will profit from getting millions of users online. Since Google Station will be launching in major cities its not clear whether the free public wifi will be mostly available for a middle class that already had access to wifi or if this will truly be benefiting new users.

We will have to wait and see if Google will achieve their goals of serving millions of Nigerians with free internet, but for now the promise on saving data seems to have gotten many people excited.





Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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