The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) this week decried rumours and urged Nigerians to disregard reports that telcos were installing cable in Lagos and Kano in preparation for the imminent launch of 5G networks.
The rumours caused widespread alarm as many Nigerians believe that 5G causes COVID-19. The NCC noted that misinformation on 5G has proliferated on popular social media platforms and dismissed this as “mischievous’’. A message widely spread purported that 5G would be launched between 10 and 12 May, however the NCC unequivocally denied this.
In November 2019, the NCC began a 3 month long trial of 5G but this has ended and the installation was decommissioned. The NCC stated that one of the objectives of the trial was to research health and security concerns related to 5G deployment.
The Nigerian situation is a worrying echo of a similar phenomenon in Namibia. On 7 April the Namibian mobile operator MTC Namibia was forced to dispel conspiracy theories that the company was using the national lockdown to install 5G networks by stealth. MTC Namibia issued a statement that 5G has not been deployed in the country and that the rumours are “malicious’’.
MTC’s spokesperson noted that South African Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, had also recently been questioned on COVID-19 being linked to 5G. Mkhize’s response was that 5G is a technology issue which is unrelated to COVID-19.