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

 

 
 
 
 

Does it matter that TfL are renaming White Hart Lane station Tottenham Hotspur?

New White Hart Lane. Image: Getty.

Pretend for a moment that you’re travelling in the London of 1932. You’re taking the Piccadilly Line northbound and alight at Gillespie Road station. The name should be obvious: it’s inscribed in bespoke brown tiling on the platform.

But that 31 October, following an intense campaign by the eponymous football club, the London County Council changed the station’s name to Arsenal (Highbury Hill). The area’s growing association with the name “Arsenal” ended in a lengthy negotiation that changed maps, signs and train tickets alike. Football had acquired so much power that it changed the name of not just a Tube station but an entire suburb, even before the era of Wenger or the Emirates.

Now the spectre of name changes is on the horizon once again. As Tottenham Hotspur FC inches closer to completing its new stadium, the club is clamouring for a renamed Overground station. Despite the fact the new stadium is located on almost exactly the same site as the old just off White Hart Lane, and fans have long been calling the scaffolding-laden mess “New White Hart Lane”, the club’s executive director is adamant that the station’s existing name cannot stand. White Hart Lane station, on the Overground line leaving Liverpool Street, is set to be renamed “Tottenham Hotspur”, at a cost to the club of £14.7m.

Little has been made of the fact that this peculiar PR kerfuffle is tied to Spurs’ failure to convince Nike to sponsor the venue. Some sources have even claimed that the sponsorship is yet to be finalised because it is somehow contingent on the renaming of the Overground station; beyond the ridiculous Johnson-era vanity project that was the Emirates Air Line, it seems improbable that TfL will allow any more corporate-flavoured information pollution. There will be no “Nike Stadium” station on the way to Enfield, much as there is no “Emirates” on the way to Cockfosters, especially if public consultation gets a look in.

The scene of the crime. Image: TfL.

But there’s a problem with the new name, all the same. “White Hart Lane” already means “football stadium”, in the same way Loftus Road or Stamford Bridge do. Changing it to “Tottenham Hotspur” risks opening the floodgates to an “O2 North Greenwich” or a “Virgin Euston” at some point in future, names as banal as there are dystopian. The Greater London Authority has promised to spend the £14.7m fee on community programmes in the local area – but that’s not much money to set the precedent that a private company can mess about with the Tube map.


What’s more, as CityMetric has often observed, there are plenty of station names across London that could do with a tidy up. Picking one that’s perfect already and asking for £14.7m to change it is adding insult to injury. How much would it cost a community group if they asked to change the name of Goodge Street to Fitzrovia? Why does a vast corporate entity backed by international sponsors and thousands of season ticket holders get to set the standard?

Back in Arsenal’s day, changing names on the Tube must have been easy; changes could be accommodated gradually without bothering the every day traveller. But in our world of online information, maps and apps, name changes are rather more complicated.

The question is – if TfL can bring itself to balefully accept this particular proposition, why can’t it accept ours? Why sort out a single non-issue on the Tube Map when you can catch lots of real ones in one go? A day’s pandemonium might just be a price worth paying to fix the Bethnal Greens problem once and for all.