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‘Misconceptions may deny Nigeria share of $13.2trn 5G economy’

The Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said that misconceptions around 5G technology is a threat to the country’s moves to deploy the latest technology. According to him, this may deny Nigeria a share of the $13.2 trillion global economic impacts to 5G, which is projected to be realised by 2035.

Speaking during a capacity building organised for members of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) in Lagos, Danbatta said the misrepresentation of 5G technology had the potential of derailing the launch of this new technology in Nigeria.

“Many Nigerians, including citizens in more civilised countries, were hooked on the notion that the introduction of 5G technology was the reason behind the spread of the novel COVID-19. This misconception was even made worse because those saddled with the responsibility of informing, educating and enlightening the average Nigerian telecom consumers were also bereft of the knowledge of this new technology and hitched a ride on the bandwagon of doubters.

“This is the reason why training such as this is necessary for members of NITRA who have continued to cover the ICT industry in Nigeria. We will ensure that the NCC maintains this training periodically for our crucial stakeholders in the media to ensure that the information that reaches the average Nigerian is accurate and timely,” he added. NCC boss acknowledged that it was the duty and responsibility of the commission to ensure that whatever it plans to introduce to the Nigerian telecoms space is well understood by Nigerians and all those who make use of the telecoms services.

While clarifying another misconception that the country had rolled out 5G, Danbatta said Nigeria only undertook 5G trials in selected locations within the country in collaboration with an operator in 2019. According to him, the trial, among others, was to study and observe any health or security challenges the 5G network might present. He said the commission also had an ongoing engagement with the academia while at the same time funding 5G related research projects, all in a bid to ensure that the nation is provided with the best in terms of research findings and policy input to drive the implementation and deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria.

Danbatta added that a draft consultation document for the deployment of the 5G technology in Nigeria had been produced and uploaded on the commission’s official website, urging all stakeholders to take advantage of the document. In the document, NCC highlighted the steps it would take before deployment of 5G.

The commission 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.

Emphasising the economic importance of the 5G technology, he noted that a recent landmark economy study conducted by Qualcomm stated that 5G would affect the global economy and drive growth exponentially. “5G’s full economic effect will likely be realised across the globe by 2035, supporting a wide range of industries and potentially enabling up to $13.2 trillion worth of goods and services. This impact will be much greater than the current 4G network.

“5G, when fully deployed, will provide increased speed and bandwidth as well as provide deeper coverage to reach people in rural or challenging locations. In addition, 5G will provide strong security for the various sectors of government and private organisations. “Due to its sheer scale and scope, the ITU predicts 5G will accelerate the achievements of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from affordable and clean energy to zero hunger,” he said.

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