Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) experts in the country have debunked the rumour trending on social media that the deployment of fifth-generation technology (5G) has links to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to them, it is incredibly unfortunate that the linkage of 5G networks to the emission of coronavirus is gaining so much attention worldwide.
They argued that this misinformation can cause unnecessary panic in this time of great uncertainty.
“It can be quite dangerous as it has already led to the destruction of 5G towers and related infrastructure in some countries.”
According to Jide Awe, an ICT expert, “unfortunately the 5G conspiracy theory is a huge distraction. NCDC has warned that the spread of rumours and fake news is harmful to their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Misinformation diverts attention and energy away from areas we should focus on at this time and can eventually hamper coronavirus response efforts. Propagating the 5G conspiracy theory is not just irresponsible and reckless but also as a risk to public health.”
He explained that though concerns may be genuine, the danger of radiation from cell phones and networks have never been substantiated by mainstream science studies. “Research is always ongoing. The 5G disinformation campaign is essentially a deadly combination of loud ignorance, unsubstantiated evidence and fanatical zeal. Unrelated issues are being muddled up and spread through the internet and social media by conspiracy theorists. Despite all their videos and publications, the truth is that their so-called findings are not accepted or recognized by credible sources in the academic, scientific, technology and health communities which include global organizations such as World Health Organisations (WHO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), etc.
“It is unfortunate that so-called enlightened and prominent people in society have been so gullible and allowed themselves to be misled along this path. It’s sad that such people of such following are now the ones helping to spread the misinformation. They should do better and have a deeper grasp of the issues involved”, Awe said.
Continuing, he said “5G is an incredible technology that will transform the world and our lives, and enable us to maximize emerging technologies such as IoT, AI, video applications, etc to drive innovation and productivity. It has a great role to play in the health sector offering telemedicine, e-surgery and other possibilities. With the right policies, it can help in addressing our developmental challenges. It will be a shame if we allow misinformation to hold us back and deny our children this unique growth opportunity.
“Several countries including Nigeria already have confirmed COVID-19 cases and yet these countries have not commenced the implementation of 5G. Furthermore, we should be able to reason that technology advanced countries in Asia, Europe and America who have a huge interest and who are competing aggressively in the 5G space, won’t want to endanger their populace. Simple reasoning shows that this conspiracy theory is both illogical and impossible.
“The danger with conspiracy theorists is that they just make things up. No proof, no evidence and no authentic validation of their claims is needed. Videos and publications on social media are not a substitute for credible data and evidence-based research. It is disturbing that this should be our focus in this critical period, adding more risk to public health at a time when it is being challenged.”
On his part, Muhammed Rudman debunked the rumour saying that coronaviruses have been there before the deployment of 5G in some countries around the world. “How could global leaders lose trillions of dollars because of a network that is privately owned?” he asked.
Rudman argued that it is not possible because before deployment of such technologies, a lot of studies must be done to determine the effects and all these, were done before countries like UK, USA, China, started using it.
He said that: “Historically, every 100 years epidemic and pandemic like the COVID-19 happens. The Spanish flu was 100 years ago. So, coronaviruses have there, 5G is not emitting them. Moreover, 5G is being deployed on frequencies that have been in use. Frequencies not below 6 GigaHertz and not above 25 GigaHertz,” he said.
Also, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 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 organisation said, “Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. 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”, the world health body stated.
In its swift reaction to the agitations from Nigerians on social media, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, has allayed the fears of the citizens assuring them the Federal Government has not issued any license for 5G in Nigeria.
The Minister who said this in a press statement Saturday noted that his office has not deliberated on or released any bulk frequency spectrum for the deployment of 5G.
Many Nigerians had taken to social media to speak against the deployment of 5G in Nigeria, believing that the technology had already been deployed in the country. Many people spoke with concern as the 5G technology is rumoured to be unsafe to human health and has not been proven otherwise.
Pantami addressed the fears of Nigerians in his statement, saying: “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 license has been issued for the deployment of 5G in the country.
“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. 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 the trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing.”