As controversy over the link between 5G and COVID-19 rages, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, has again dismissed the fear of Nigerians, saying that he is not aware of any research linking the dreaded virus with 5G.
The minister spoke while featuring as a guest at Channels TV News programme.
Pantami, who was asked to respond to the concern of Nigerians who are worried about the safety of 5G network following the Demo trial of November 2019 in Abuja, said he is yet to see any research by any of the international and professional bodies linking 5G and COVID-19 as being speculated in some quarters.
He noted that during the Demo trial conducted on 25th November 2019 on 5G network, MTN did not use the spectrum of 5G, but did the trial using the spectrum of 4G not 5G because federal government does not acquire infrastructure for any company in telecoms.
‘‘We have always taken decision based on opinion of experts on research. We have many health and telecommunications world bodies. I am yet to see any research by any of these professional bodies like ITU and others about 5G and COVID-19. These are bodies that accommodate our experts in this field globally.
‘‘We have these professional bodies which make research on this and other related matters. During the trial I personally invited about 16 institutions and also directed NCC to invite other stakeholders. With experts we have so far, the recommendation will accommodate many experts when it comes to a matter like this.
‘‘When you want to do trial, you must involve stakeholders. During the trial based on the report that came to me from NCC, they only used the spectrum of 4G and even the spectrum of 5G is the same with radio frequency and it has not been released for anybody for 5G.’’
He insisted that there was no cause for alarm since no 5G license had been issued and advised Nigerians not be worried because no spectrum of 5G has been issued and no approval given to any operator to deploy 5G, insisting that government would only take a final decision based on experts’ recommendations.
‘‘We as a government do not speak based on speculations, but based on facts and figures and inputs from experts within the fields and not rely on speculations.
‘‘It was because of this that when the issue of COVID-19 emerged, the first thing government did was to advise people not to speak unnecessarily but to allow experts in the field to speak.’’
‘‘Because of this, Nigerians should not be worried because no licence for 5G has been issued; no spectrum of 5G has been issued; no approval given to any operator to deploy 5G.
‘‘This decision will be taken after research. We are taking our time, many countries deployed 5G in UK, Germany, South Korea, India and South Africa and Lesotho. Now Uganda and Kenya are working on deploying 5G.
‘‘In Nigeria, we know our constitution. Because of this, we are not in any way rushing until after extensive investigation, so that we will be able to come out with something tangible.’’
When asked to comment on where 5G falls within the range of iodized and non-iodized frequencies, the minister said: ‘‘During trial you can used the spectrum of one generation to test another one. The 4G, 3G and 2G have been in existence till today. During the trial, I personally did it.’’
On what was found from the trial, Pantami said federal government awaits the recommendations of a team of experts assigned to study on it and submit their findings before taking a final decision on whether to deploy issue 5G licence in Nigeria or not.
‘‘The trial has been concluded since, and the NCC has been working on the report collecting recommendations, observations, and constructive criticism from stakeholders who wish to do so. From that report, government will take a position.
‘’During the trial, we invited stakeholders, security institutions and many more. After the trial, we have given them a challenge to come up with recommendations that will guide government to take decision on whether to deploy 5G or not. That recommendations will be accommodated in the regulatory instrument to be developed by NCC.
‘‘So far, the report is yet to reach me. When the report comes to me, we will review it and make our position known and very clear and we will see it. Right now, we don’t take decisions based on speculations. As it is now, we don’t take decisions based on speculations.’’