By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), have debunked public speculations that the deployment of Fifth Generation Mobile network technology, otherwise known as 5G Network in China and in a few other developed countries of the world, could be responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
They called on Nigerians not to allow such speculations to create additional fear in them as the world struggles to contain the spread of the virus. 5G network is an improvement on the existing 2G, 3G and 4G technologies that have already been deployed globally, including in Nigeria for internet connectivity via mobile phones and other computing devices.
However, as technology advances, China became the first country to deploy the 5G technology, while other countries, including Nigeria, are making preparations to deploy the new technology, which comes with higher speed of internet connectivity. But there are widespread speculations that the switching on of 5G in China may have led to the release of strong electromagnetic emissions from its network, which triggered COVID-19.
According to the claim, the reactions of the electromagnetic emissions are responsible for the creation of the virus that was first discovered in Wuhan, an industrial city in China. However, the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity at NCC, Mr. Bako Wakil, told THISDAY that there were no scientific studies to show that electromagnetic emissions from telecoms facilities, including mobile phones, could cause health hazard to humans.
He, therefore, called on Nigerians to discard the speculations. Also, ATCON President, Mr. Olusola Teniola, in his video message that has gone viral on social media, dismissed the speculations that the switching on of 5G technology in China was responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Teniola said: “5G is a technology being developed to help the world harness the digital resources for our general wellbeing. The message trending on social media that 5G is responsible for the formation of COVID-19, is designed to deceive the world and should be disregarded.” The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ibrahim Pantami, in a statement issued at the weekend had also debunked any linkage between 5G and COVID-19.
“The attention of my office has been drawn to the public concern about the health implications of the deployment of Fifth Generation Mobile Networks (5G) in Nigeria.
Based on available records at my office and the earlier report received from the regulator, I would like to clarify as follows: The National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), of which I am the Chairman, has not deliberated on or released any bulk frequency spectrum for the deployment of 5G; No licence has been issued for the deployment of 5G in the country. A three-month study trial commenced on the 25th of November, 2019 in order to critically review and study the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria.
“As part of the study trial process, I directed the NCC to ensure that a team of experts, security agencies and other stakeholders fully participate in the trial process and my office also invited these agencies to participate in the trial. ”The trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing,” Pantami said. He assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari would not do anything to jeopardise their welfare, health and security.
According to the minister, the federal government will take an informed decision on 5G after due consultation with experts and the public.