Google is set to open a Point of Presence (POP) in Nigeria, to cater for the increasing number of users to its sites and lower the cost of international bandwidth. Nigeria has the highest number of Internet users in Africa, at 43 million, surpassing South Africa, the largest economy. A report released by the ITU last week shows Nigeria's online community growing at a fast pace and Google products were the most visited by 43 million out of a population of 150 million.

"Google is set to open its POP in Nigeria; South Africa was the first and Kenya will get its POP in Q2 of 2011," said Mike Blanche, Google's Program Manager for peering and content distribution for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Because of the low number of Internet users, Google had set up cache servers in ISPs in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but the increasing level of content has led to more investment.

"It is fundamental to us that we contribute to making the Internet more relevant and useful to Africa. Including helping to create and enable more African content online, helping to develop products that are locally meaningful, and enabling Africans developers to do the same," said Joe Mucheru, a Google manager for sub-Saharan Africa.

Although the entry of the Seacom, TEAMS and Eassy fibre optic cables have made bandwidth more affordable, other challenges like reliance on international connectivity due to lack of local content exchange points have made costs remain high.

"The high price and low availability of international capacity makes it difficult to effectively and cost efficiently deliver content to Google Internet users in sub-Saharan Africa," added Mucheru.

The POPs will help in exchanging content with some of the major content providers like e-government services and ISPs and hopefully lower costs for end users who in most cases rely on 3G or edge for connectivity.