By Clifford Agugoesi, Editor-in-Chief
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” No statement can be truer than this made by American writer, Mark Twain(November 30, 1835-April 21, 1910). Rumours or conspiracy rumours(some writers choose to call them conspiracy theories) have proven to be potentially damaging to advancement of human progress and evidence of its disruption can easily be traced to the deployment of the fifth generation(5G) technology in 2019 and the onset of the coronavirus(COVID-19) pandemic worldwide. Rumours on the linkage of 5G and COVID-19 had pitted conspiracy theorists(rumour mongers) and telecommunications experts in a seeming war without an end. Some parts of Europe and Australia witnessed burning and vandalisation of telecoms infrastructure as a result of misinformation on the value proposition of 5G technology.
Independent telecommunications regulatory authority, the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), already has a plan to have 5G deployed in the country, but cannot push this agendum hard enough until it has rid the system of destructive rumours. And, Cyber Era can authoritatively report that the Commission is countering the impact of conspiracy theory through strategic deployment of capacity building for telecoms stakeholders.
In his address at the capacity building programme for members of Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) on November 18, 2020 at the Citiheight Hotel, Lagos, south west, Nigeria, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer(EVC/CEO) of NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta applauded every member of NITRA for working assiduously to provide coverage for the Commission’s activities, as well as provide a platform for the agency’s narratives in terms of the various policy initiatives and actions taken to support the national economy. “Without your continuous cooperation, understanding and professionalism, the Nigerian audience would not have been properly informed about the activities of the NCC,” Prof. Danbatta said.
Represented by the Director of Public Affairs(DPA) of the Commission, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the EVC/CEO of NCC alluded to an interactive session the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Ibrahim Pantami, had with the Press in Abuja on January 3, 2020 wherein Dr. Pantami stated that the Nigerian government was fully in support of building capacity for communications and digital economy stakeholders.
“This effort is consistent with one of the critical pillars of my strategic vision plan, which has to do with strategic partnership and collaboration and so, we view every member of NITRA as a very crucial stakeholder, hence this training,” Danbatta said.
Danbatta went further: “Let me turn our attention to the issue of 5G. A lot of falsehoods and misinformation have been peddled both on online and traditional media outlets about the health and safety implications of deploying 5G technology.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission just recently published the Draft Consultation Document on the Deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Mobile Technology in Nigeria and I wish to use this medium to draw your attention to the fact that the Commission has not concluded plans for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) network.
“Nigeria only undertook 5G trials in selected locations within the country in collaboration with an Operator in 2019. The trial, among others was to study and observe any health or security challenges the 5G network might present. The Commission also has an ongoing engagement with the academia while at the same time funding 5G related research projects, all in a bid to ensure 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.
The Draft Consultation Document for deployment of the 5G technology in Nigeria has been produced and uploaded on the Commission’s official website (www.ncc.gov.ng). I invite you all to please take advantage of this document, peruse it and share it with your readers so they can be informed about the 5G technology.”
It will be recalled that about a month ago in his speech during the NITRA Innovative Tech forum, which held virtually, Danbatta quoted a recent landmark economy study conducted by Qualcomm which states that 5G will affect the global economy and drive growth exponentially. As per that report, 5G’s full economic effect will likely be realized across the globe by 2035, supporting a wide range of industries and potentially enabling up to US$13.2 trillion worth of goods and services, adding this impact will be much greater than the current 4G network.
Experts believe that 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 organizations.
Due to its sheer scale and scope, the ITU predicts 5G will accelerate the achievements of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) from affordable and clean energy to zero hunger.
So, Danbatta and NCC considering the enormous benefits that 5G will attract to the economy and the improvement it would have on Nigerians are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring rumours are routed from the system before 5G could take root.
According to Danbatta: “The misrepresentation of 5G technology has the potential of derailing the launch of this new technology in our clime.
Many Nigerians including citizens in more civilized countries were hooked on the notion that the introduction of 5G technology was the reason behind the spread of the novel COVID-19 Pandemic. 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 band wagon 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,” adding “It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that whatever we want to introduce to the Nigerian telecoms space is well understood by Nigerians and all those who make use of our telecoms services.”
Under the theme: Capacity Building For Telecom Sector Reporters, eminently qualified resource persons from within and outside the agency were on hand to bring the news hounds up to speed with developments in telecommunications, tips for doing good news, features and investigative stories and emerging technologies.
On hand to do just justice to the topics were: Engineer Maigana Gidado of the Spectrum Administration Department of NCC, veteran journalist and University of Lagos don, Declan Okpalaeke and Professor of Intelligent Communications & Cognition Systems and Dean, Faculty of Computing, Airforce Institute of Technology, Kaduna, north west, Nigeria, Godfrey Chyke Onyiagha,.
The training was witnessed by Head, Online Media & Special Publications, Grace B. Ojougboh, Principal Manager/Team Lead, Media & Public Relations, Trudy Tony-Awusaku(moderator), Deputy Manager, Dr. Kunle Azeez, Livinus Ashio, Fatima Shettima and Tolulase Omodele-Rufai all of the NCC and NITRA members.
NITRA members were given certificates of participation and worktools at the end of the training.