The busiest airport in Lagos is offering free WiFi. Sort of

Murtala Mohammed International Airport in 2005. Image: Getty.

Brilliant. As of Monday, Lagos' main airport finally has free WiFi.

Murtala Muhammed International Airport will be the first public airport to have it in Nigeria. The departing Minister for Aviation announced it via twitter last Wednesday morning.

But then, he back-tracked slightly. Obviously when someone says “free”, they mean, "for a bit".

Nonetheless, the development is a welcome one in a country where 27 per cent of the population own a smart phone, and only 1 per cent own a home landline. The duality of lagging development but rapidly increasing use of technology has made the house-phone a non-existent phenomenon in West African cities.


The Lagos State Government recently announced its plans to create WiFi hubs in three public parks, too. But the announcement gave no clue as to when this would happen; neither was it clear whether it would be free in the 20 minute sense of the word or some other.

Whilst it is not exactly a WiFi blitz on Africa's largest city, it reflects a belated impetus on the part of government policy to catch-up with the modern realities of increasingly tech-savy Nigerians. Public WiFi availability in the city is scarce, but its potential to help grow Lagos' economy is huge. According to the World Bank, for every 10 per cent of broadband penetration, a country’s GDP grows by 1.28 per cent. Or, in less technical termsL the more WiFi, the more capacity to make money.

It is yet to be seen whether the new government in Lagos, which will kick off on Friday, will quicken or even continue the current plans. But the surge in smart phone usage in Lagos will hopefully be persuasive.

 

Incidentally, Murtala Muhammad International Airport is the ninth of the ten busiest airports in Africa. Here are the rest:

AIRPORT

CITY

COUNTRY

IS THERE WIFI?

OR Tambo International

Johannesburg

South Africa

Free wifi

Cairo International  

Cairo

Egypt

Free wifi

Cape Town International

Cape Town

South Africa

Free wifi

Mohammed V International

Casablanca

Morocco

Of course. But it'll cost you

Murtala Muhammed International

Lagos

Nigeria

Free? For 20 minutes? Sure, knock yourself out

Hurghada International

Hurghada

Egypt

No wifi

Jomo Kenyatta International

Nairobi

Kenya

Sorry, it'll cost you here too

Sharm el-Sheikh International

Sharm el-Sheikh

Egypt

FREE WIFI!

Bole International

Addis Ababa

Ethiopia

SURF SURF SURF!   FREE FREE FREE

 

 
 
 
 

London Overground is experimenting with telling passengers which bits of the next train is busiest

There must be a better way than this: Tokyo during a 1972 rail strike. Image: Getty.

One of the most fun things to do, for those who enjoy claustrophobia and other people’s body odour, is to attempt to use a mass transit system at rush hour.

Travelling on the Central line at 6pm, for example, gives you all sorts of exciting opportunities to share a single square inch of floor space with a fellow passenger, all the while becoming intimately familiar with any personal hygiene problems they may happen to have. On some, particularly lovely days you might find you don’t even get to do this for ages, but first have to spend some exciting time enjoying it as a spectator sport, before actually being able to pack yourself into one unoccupied cranny of a train.

But fear not! Transport for London has come up with a plan: telling passengers which bits of the train have the most space on them.

Here’s the science part. Many trains include automatic train weighing systems, which do exactly what the name suggests: monitoring the downward force on any individual wheel axis in real time. The data thus gathered is used mostly to optimise the braking.

But it also serves as a good proxy for how crowded a particular carriage is. All TfL are doing here is translating that into real time information visible to passengers. It’s using the standard, traffic light colour system: green means go, yellow means “hmm, maybe not”, red means “oh dear god, no, no, no”. 

All this will, hopefully, encourage some to move down the platform to where the train is less crowded, spreading the load and reducing the number of passengers who find themselves becoming overly familiar with a total stranger’s armpit.

The system is not unique, even in London: trains on the Thameslink route, a heavy-rail line which runs north/south across town (past CityMetric towers!) has a similar system visible to passengers on board. And so far it’s only a trial, at a single station, Shoreditch High Street.

But you can, if you’re so minded, watch the information update every few seconds or so here.

Can’t see why you would, but I can’t see why I would either, and that hasn’t stopped me spending much of the day watching it, so, knock yourselves out.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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