It has been a year since the drama and propaganda surrounding the deployment of the 5G network in Nigeria captured the nation’s attention. In the spring of 2022, the discourse surrounding the fifth generation of wireless technology was filled with a mix of excitement, fear, and misinformation. Let’s take a retrospective look at the 5G controversy in Nigeria, how it unfolded, and what has transpired in the year since.
The rollout of 5G technology in Nigeria was met with an initial wave of enthusiasm and hope for faster internet speeds, improved connectivity, and advanced technology applications. However, this optimism soon gave way to fear and conspiracy theories, largely fueled by misinformation and disinformation spreading across the social media.
Many Nigerians were concerned about the potential health risks associated with 5G technology. Some claimed that 5G could cause cancer, infertility, and even the spread of COVID-19. These fears gained traction quickly, and they were exacerbated by viral videos and dubious articles shared widely online.
Misinformation played a significant role in the drama surrounding 5G in Nigeria. False claims and conspiracy theories were disseminated at an alarming rate, contributing to public anxiety. Regrettably, the lack of credible information and effective communication strategies from government agencies and telecommunication companies allowed misinformation to take root.
The Nigerian government responded to the controversy by issuing statements emphasizing the safety of 5G technology. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) released educational materials to counteract the misinformation. The NCC also conducted public awareness campaigns to address concerns about the health and safety of 5G networks.
The emergence of 5G marks a significant leap in wireless technology. By the close of 2022, the mobile industry had already facilitated over one billion 5G connections, signifying a remarkable milestone for a technology that distinguishes itself from its predecessors. Engineered for exceptional versatility, 5G boasts of the capability to provide lightning-fast and responsive connectivity while concurrently supporting numerous connections with reliability and security.
This adaptability has prompted widespread adoption across a spectrum of industries, including power companies, manufacturers, transport operators, and food producers. Notably, 5G stands out as the first wireless technology dependable enough to replace cables in mission-critical applications, granting businesses increased flexibility and cost reductions. In certain markets, 5G is bridging the digital divide by extending high-speed broadband to communities previously beyond the reach of fixed networks.
Since its initial deployment in early 2019 in South Korea, China, and the U.S., 5G has gained adoption at an unprecedented pace, surpassing the adoption rates of earlier cellular technologies.
As we look back a year after the 5G drama, some important developments have taken place. First, 5G technology was officially deployed in major cities across Nigeria. Users have reported faster internet speeds, improved connectivity, and a smoother experience while using data-intensive applications. The fears of health risks associated with 5G have not been substantiated, and the technology has been adopted widely without major health issues reported.
Koyejo Adeloye, a cloud engineer, said the drama and propaganda surrounding 5G technology in Nigeria a year ago were a testament to the power of misinformation and the potential harm it can cause.
According to him “While the rollout of 5G has since proceeded without the dire consequences predicted, it serves as a reminder of the importance of effective communication and education when introducing new technologies. As Nigeria continues to embrace 5G and further innovations in the tech world, the need for public engagement, transparency, and evidence-based communication becomes even more critical to dispel fears and ensure the country’s technological progress” he said
Opeyemi Oluwalana, a computer programmer said the only thing Nigerians lacked back then was the ability to approach the propaganda surrounding 5G technology with a critical and informed perspective.
According to him; “While it’s natural for new technologies to generate concerns and rumors, it’s crucial to rely on scientific evidence and expert opinions when evaluating the impact of 5G.
The safety and security of 5G networks should be rigorously assessed based on well-established research and standards”
“It’s important to separate legitimate concerns, such as network security and privacy issues, from unfounded claims about health risks or conspiracies. Governments, regulatory bodies, and the tech industry should work together to ensure that 5G networks are implemented safely and responsibly”
“It’s also vital for individuals to stay informed and discerning when encountering information related to 5G. Questioning sources, fact-checking, and seeking information from reliable experts are all essential practices. As a computer programmer, I understand the technical complexities of 5G, and I believe that responsible technological advancement should always prioritize safety, security, and transparency”
“The lessons learned from this episode are invaluable. It underscores the importance of clear and transparent communication when introducing new technologies. The Nigerian government and telecommunications companies must continue to engage the public, provide accurate information, and debunk misinformation promptly” he concluded
Also speaking, Ayodeji Ayanleye, a public health expert said there have been claims about potential health risks associated with 5G radiation. It’s essential to rely on scientific research and the consensus of expert health organizations.
“As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, no conclusive evidence has established a direct link between 5G technology and adverse health effects. However, continuous monitoring and research are essential.”
“Although, 5G technology does emit electromagnetic fields, like previous wireless technologies, till date, the evidence suggests that exposure to EMFs from 5G networks, within established safety limits, should not pose a significant risk to human health. Nevertheless, ongoing studies are needed to ensure safety.”
“We also shouldn’t underestimate the environmental impact from an environmental health perspective, it’s important to consider the energy consumption and electronic waste associated with 5G infrastructure. Assessing the long-term sustainability and environmental effects of 5G is a valid concern.”
“But the most important thing is, it is essential to rely on credible sources for information, such as health organizations and government agencies. Misinformation and unverified claims can create unwarranted fear and confusion” he said
While concerns about 5G’s health impact are raised, the consensus among medical experts is that there is no conclusive evidence to support significant health risks. However, it’s vital for the medical community to continue monitoring and researching this technology to ensure its safety and to address public concerns in an informed and responsible way.