AfricaNXT 2022: NCC pulls largest crowd, assures consumers 5G technology is safe

*The Nigerian Communications Commission pulls the largest gathering at the AfricaNXT Conference 2022, in Lagos, as the Commission’s team discusses consumer safety and  socio-economic benefits of 5G services, and how the new technology will enable fresh possibilities in the West African country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed how the telecoms sector regulator attracted the largest attendance and participation in a single session during the AfricaNXT Conference 2022, where the Commission’s team discussed the socio-economic benefits of 5G services in the West African country.

ConsumerConnect reports the NCC said that the annual AfricaNXT Conference, formerly known as Lagos Social Media Week, ended on a historically impressive note for the telecoms regulatory Commission in Nigeria.

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Sunday, March 6, 2022, stated that the conference had scheduled over 200 sessions and about 400 speakers for the week-long event.

RELATED: AfricaNXT Confab Goal Aligns With Vision Of Technology-Driven Prosperity For Continent: NCC

However, NCC session was oversubscribed as all seats were occupied, while some participants had to stand to listen to the discussion on a topic that patently enthused and electrified the audience, and marked by very rare social networking and participation, noted the Commission.

The NCC team Thursday, March 3, 2022, mounted the FutureNow Stage of the Innovation Pavilion of the Conference to inform, educate, and rally further support for the Commission’s strides on the preparedness of Nigeria to deploy the Fifth Generation (5G) networks and services.

Consumer safety, socio-economic benefits of 5G technology

The Commission said that the NCC’s 5-man panel, using simple, fact-based examples, provided necessary clarifications to the audience on the safety of 5G technology and gave copious examples about how the technology would significantly impact life qualitatively and bring socio-economic benefits to the citizens, businesses, Nigeria, and the African continent.

“The panelists extensively discussed 5G technology, focusing on safety, data privacy, the chronology of programmes, actions and activities of the Commission towards the launch of the services, including the issuance of 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum and licence for 5G deployment, the rollout plans, use cases as well as citing concrete socio-economic significance of the expected services.

READ ALSO 5G Deployment: NCC Officially Receives 3.5GHz Spectrum Allocation From Federal Government

“The NCC team explained to the excited audience how 5G will power a plethora of applications, innovation and creativity,” stated the NCC Director of Public Affairs.

These include smart cities, telemedicine, Internet of Things (IoT), smart agriculture, driverless cars, and bolstering of the security governance sector, among others.

The team asserted that 5G is a network of networks because of its huge capabilities and derivable benefits can only be limited if humans limit their own imaginations.

READ ALSO 5G Technology: Minister Urges Nigerians To Use Networks For Positive Impacts, Not Disunity

Reckoning that 5G technology is a total shift from the Internet connectivity people are used to at the moment, the NCC said the panel stated that 5G would open doors of new possibilities and socio-economic impacts.

The Commission as well quoted a member of the panel emphasising enhanced connectivity that comes with 5G technology.

The discussant said: “With 5G, there is something for everyone. Nigeria is kick-starting these massive benefits with enhanced Broadband.

Cross-sections of some participants in AfricaNXT 2022 in Lagos

“5G will bridge the fibre connectivity gap and with wireless broadband connectivity, Nigerians will enjoy the enhanced Broadband.”

READ ALSO 5G Networks: NCC Announces MTN, Mafab Communications Winners Of 2 Slots In 3.5GHz Spectrum Auction

The discussants also agreed that telecoms operators would reap huge benefits from 5G in several ways, through network slicing, new revenue streams from IoT, industrial applications, gaming, and entertainment as well as live broadcast features supported by 5G among others.

5G to power over a billion devices in two years ─Experts

The NCC team comprising specialists in Engineering, Law and Communications, further said that 5G would power over a billion devices in the next two years, and by implication, there will be an upsurge in the manufacturing of related user equipment expected to reduce prices of associated devices and equipment in the telecoms ecosystem.

READ ALSO Digital Economy: Nigeria Planning Widest 5G Deployment In Africa 2022 ─Pantami

According to the Commission, the process is also expected to trigger utilisation of raw materials, such as rare earth metals that are found in large quantities in Africa, and cities will equally benefit from the 5G-enabled infrastructure, including smart street lighting, smart traffic control systems, maintenance services, and so on that will deliver huge economic gains to the consumers.

While explaining NCC’s efforts and plans on consumer safety in the 5G era, discussants as well recalled that the Commission was already working closely with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to develop a Risk Management Frameworks.

The NCC noted that the framework would grow the need for the ‘ethical hacking’ skill set and allow the use of ethical hacking as part of risk management towards ensuring the safety of cyberspace during 5G era.

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The panel informed the audience that NCC had established a sectoral Computer Security Incidents Response Team (CSIRT) to work with the telecoms operators to reduce risks on the cyberattacks and data breach.

According to the Commission, the Centre inaugurated in 2021 has been collaborating with the national agency, the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), towards enhancing the security of the cyberspace and privacy of citizens.

“This strategic collaboration, for which NCC is noted, will now be boosted by the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, recently established by the Federal Government,” NCC stated.

While explaining the security, safety and speed characteristic of 5G, the panel further reasoned while 4G has a response time of 10 millisecond, equivalent of the capacity of human brain, 5G technology is even faster.

READ ALSO: 5G Networks Safe, Beneficial For Socio-Economic Transformation ─NCC

The country’s telecoms sector regulator, therefore, said the high-speed feature of 5G would make it unlock greater opportunities that will enhance human productivity for  development.

It said: “The latency of 5G, which measures its response time, is 1 millisecond, while that of 4G is measured at 10 milliseconds.

“While 4G can accommodate 100,000 device connections in one square kilometre, 5G can connect a million devices within the same space, and thus, power Internet of Things (IoT).

“Also, 5G peak data rate is 20 gigabits (GB) per second for download, and 10GB for upload, which is higher than 100 megabytes (MB) per second download and 50MB upload offered by 4G network.”

Nigeria is ready for 5G deployment

The panel of discussants also allayed fears of health concerns, propelled by “misconceptions, disinformation, misinformation and malinformation” in certain quarters.

RELATED: Telecoms Regulator’s Central Mandate Is To Ensure Consumer Protection ─NCC

The experts also informed the participants that such apprehension is unnecessary.

The panel cited research-based evidence from the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Commission on Non-Ironising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), to prove the safety of 5G network to human health.

The panel explicated further that Nigeria can, indeed, begin to create smart cities, an ecosystem powered by 5G applications.

The massive speed of 5G, according to the discussants, will also enhance the capacity of start-ups and other tech entrepreneurs to leverage the enabling environment powered by the fast connectivity, to develop unlimited solutions for the benefit of Nigeria and her citizens.

RELATED: 5G Deployment In Nigeria Is In Line With Global Innovation Curve ─Buhari

According to the panel, an enhanced broadband that allows low latency and facilitate billion of connections in machine-to-machine communication certainly holds a big promise for socio-economic growth and development.

Centrality of stakeholder collaborations for success

Asked if the country is ready for 5G, the panel declared that, “Nigeria is ready for 5G because the NCC has been supported by key stakeholders to make Nigeria ready.

“The Commission has built the regulatory foundation, the deployment plan has been designed and various exercises have been carried out up to the level of handling over 5G Spectrum licences to the operators.”

Meanwhile, the panelists also emphasised the centrality of collaboration among state and non-state actors to drive the ecosystem.

They contend that, as with other previous technologies, such as 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G, efforts must be made for all stakeholders to glean and exploit the massive use cases of 5G for socio-economic development.

While rounding off the highly engaging session, which focused on “Moving Forward Steadily: Socio-Economic Significance of Development of 5G Services”, Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan, Head of Online Media of NCC, the moderator, thanked the co-panelists for their diligence and painstaking engagements, and the audience for its interest, enthusiasm and solidarity.

Dr. Ibietan reiterated the unflinching commitment of NCC to doing all within its regulatory powers to ensure data security and data protection.

The moderator also underscored the need for sustenance of collaborative efforts among tiers of government and all other stakeholders to ensure effective utilisation of 5G services across all sectors.

Other panelists are Babagana Digima, Team Lead, Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS); Usman Aliyu, Head of Space Services; Anthony Ikemefuna, Head of Fixed Networks and Converged Services; and Dr. Mohammed Suleh-Yusuf, a Senior Manager in the Legal and Regulatory Services Department of the Commission.

The AfricaNXT Conference is the largest assemblage of innovators from across Africa and Africa’s Diasporan communities.

The confab and festival, now in its 10th year, is an annual event that holds in Lagos, focusing on harnessing Africa’s potential for the continent’s development, using the dual agencies of human creativity and the promises of technology.

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