Preparatory to the country’s rollout of 5G technology, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it is in putting in place health safety measures. Part of these measures, according to the commission’s 5G policy document, is to ensure that all equipment to be installed for the deployment of 5G meet the approved health protection certifications through the appropriate regulatory frameworks.
Globally, concerns are being raised over the health implications of the new technology leading to the conspiracy theory that it was the cause of COVID-19. The NCC, however, noted that while there is no established health implication of 5G, it would ensure that the deployment and installation of 5G equipment in Nigeria conform to international best practices ensuring public safety is given the highest priority.
“Health and Public safety are very critical concerns associated with the deployment of Radio frequency-based technologies. The World Health Organisation and other relevant International agencies focused on public health and safety have developed and published guidelines for the safe deployment and operation of these technologies.
5G technology falls within these technologies as such there is a need for continuous awareness and enlightenment to assure the public of the safety of the technolnogy so as to encourage its uptake and prevent the conspiracy theorists from spreading false information and fear among the public,” the Commission stated in its 5G policy document just released.
The NCC said it would also undertake regular public awareness campaigns to keep the public up to date with health and safety-related information on the 5G technology while ensuring the utilisation of controlled deployment of base stations and using the infrastructure sharing model to optimise the use of cell site locations and minimise duplication of infrastructure.
While addressing the health concerns over the 5G, NCC noted that scientific evidence from studies carried out by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) all show that exposure to radio frequencies are safe and does not cause or initiate the occurrence of cancers. “Several studies have been undertaken for different portions of the Radio Frequency spectrum to support this position.
A study involving over 40000 people exposed to radar frequencies for several years failed to identify any increased incidence of illness or mortality associated with the exposure to radiofrequency emissions,” it said.
The commission noted that in line with the strategy of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the acceleration of the national digital economy for a digital Nigeria and the positioning of Nigeria as an early adopter of digital technology and a major participant in the growing global digital economy, the successful and timely deployment of 5G is crucial.
It added that technology is expected to facilitate several emerging technologies, generate innovative new use cases, spur significant socio-economic growth, and job creation. “However, the promise of 5G is coupled with a myriad of regulatory challenges that need to be addressed before 5G rollouts, such as spectrum allocation and assignment, infrastructure challenges, right-of-way issues, network security, privacy, health and safety, and so on.
“In March 2020, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 was released, updating and building upon the previous Plan (2013 – 2018). The new broadband plan unveiled a detailed strategy for rapid rollout of broadband services across the nation and sets goals for effective coverage, minimum data download speeds in both urban and rural areas, and data pricing, but does not fully or directly address 5G deployment,” the commission said.