In the late hours of Friday, till the early hours of Saturday, an audio about the health implications of the 5G on Nigeria went viral.
The audio has now been listened to by millions of people and has caused a frenzy on the social media.
While the details of the audio on the link between the 5G and COVID-19 sounds scientifically baseless, it is like many others, just another attempt to create panic amongst Nigerians.
The 5G network like other mobile technologies such as 4G, 3G and 2G, 5G data is transmitted over radio waves, a type of electromagnetic radiation. It is a very fast technology and represents a grand evolution in the communications industry.
Medical experts have debunked its links with COVID-19, saying it is unfounded and shorn of any defensible or clearcut medical finding.
“Till date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies. Health-related conclusions are drawn from studies performed across the entire radio spectrum but, so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G,” the World Health Organisation said about the 5G.
The global health Organisation explained further that as long as exposure is kept below the internationally-approved guidelines, the dangers of the technology to humans is negligible.
“Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.”
“As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.” it adds.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ali Isa Ibrahim (Pantami) in a statement on Saturday hailed Nigerians for reaching out to the Ministry on the audio making the rounds. He debunked such reports and said the Ministry or his office hasn’t granted approval for the deployment of the 5G to any company.
“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:
i. 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;
ii. No license has been issued for the deployment of 5G in the country;
iii. A 3-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;
iv. As part of the study trial process, I directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (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; and
v. The trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing.
“His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, places a premium on the welfare, health and security of Nigerians. As such, our desire for technological advancement will never be at the expense of the health and welfare of our citizens.
“Government will not act on the speculations only, but rather we will take an informed decision on 5G after due consultation with experts and the public. I have also directed the NCC to engage citizens on any questions or concerns they may have regarding 5G.
“I wish to thank the general public for reaching out to us on this issue. We advise you all to remain rest assured that government will always take the welfare, health and security of the public into account while considering the deployment of any technology,” Pantami said in a Press Release.
However, checks by ALEDEH have revealed that at least one telecommunication company in Nigeria has trialled its 5G Network.
On the 25th of November 2019, MTN Nigeria launched its 5G network in a trial in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
In another event on the 28th of the same month, the company had another trial in Calabar with RT Hon Eteng Jonah Williams and Chairman House Committee on Petroleum, Hillary Bisong both present at the occasion.
On the 5th of May, 2019, before the commencement of the trial, granted by the NCC, the company had brought the demo of the 5G Network to Lagos, with the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, his Chiefs and the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji all present at the event. Tunde Braimoh, a Member of the Lagos State of Assembly represented the Speaker while Nollywood actress, Dakore Egbuson-Akande also featured in the event. Musician, Praiz was also present to sing the national anthem at the event.
Earlier today, we brought the future to #Lagos with the #MTN5GDemo! Lagosians got to witness the unlimited potential of 5G with ground breaking use cases and next-level demonstrations! #ExperienceTheFuture pic.twitter.com/divILLvQuu
— MTN Nigeria (@MTNNG) December 5, 2019
— MTN Nigeria (@MTNNG) December 5, 2019
With all these highly celebrated trials of the 5G network in very strategic cities in the country, results of the trials must be trickling in for the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy by now, as it is over 2 months since the end of the trials.
While the results of the test run is expected to lead a decision by the Ministry of Communications and the NCC, ALEDEH has gathered from a top industry expert that the safety of the 5G network to Nigerians, under the planned frequency, posts a red flag.
According to the high ranking communications expert, “a slow down is better at the moment because the frequency the 5G will be placed on is harmful. They should slow down the launch of the 5G until we are certain it can be deployed on the same frequency as we broadcast the TV. It’s a very dangerous frequency, something close to what is used to microwave foods. Until we develop a technology that can work with more human-friendly frequency, we have to suspend it for now until that technology is available.”
The communications expert corroborated the claims of the Minister of Communications about the fact that the 5G network is yet to be deployed in the country. He said it was just a test run, and confirmed that the network has not been launched yet in the country.
“5G is not running in Nigeria, it was just test run,” he said.
On the fears of inserting chips into humans, believed to be a system of operations that may come with the use of the 5G network. The top industry watcher said it is not a practice specific to the 5G network alone, and it is something that is done in 4G and 3G networks and too.
He said Telcos like MTN and Airtel have been deploying their 4G Networks on higher frequencies, like 1000 Megahertz. He said this is a frequency that helps self-driven cars, and other instantaneous actions like controlling things from afar.
“If an ingenious, more human-friendly frequency can be brought up, then the 5G can be safely deployed. A lot of networks are refiling already to higher frequencies as a result of the 4G. The idea that a chip can only be achieved under 5G is not true.”
He said the use of implanted chips is a thing that can only be achieved by consent. In his analysis, he said it means such a person will be monitored and it is not a compulsory practice, contrary to reports making the rounds. “With or without the 5G, chips can be implanted, so that’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said.
The question Nigerians should be asking now is beyond the COVID-19, is the 5G network safe enough to be used?
Checks by ALEDEH have discovered that MTNNigeria indeed had the trials and has deleted the tweets it made on the 25th and 28th of November 2019 showing images and videos of the event. The telecommunication giant had previously posted tweets of its trial of the 5G Network in both Abuja and Calabar respectively.
The reason behind this action by MTN remains unknown, but poses questions about the untold stories by the company, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.