5G, COVID-19 and history without end

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Continued from last week


Okoh Aihe

By Okoh Aihe

Last week,  I started a satirical illustration of how a novel 5G network has been wrongly connected to the outbreak of Covid19 pandemic.

The satire comes with a lot of humour, pointing out how we allow legacy absurdities to rub us of opportunities to plan significantly for the future as we pursue mysticisms. This is the concluding part:

Watching Trump make this declaration were Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – just like the NCC in Nigeria –  and some top members of his administration. Trump never for once directed any of these officials to do something instead he challenged them to rise to the new thinking of the United States.

Trump didn’t position his presidency to lead the deployment of the 5G  technology instead he openly fanned out the responsibility to the FCC and the private sector, the latter he described as being able to do a better job than the government.

Hear him: “In the United States, our approach is private-sector driven and private-sector led.

The government doesn’t have to spend lots of money.  According to some estimates, the wireless industry plans to invest $275 billion in 5G networks, creating 3 million American jobs quickly — very quickly — and adding $500 billion to our economy.”

Trump is about America, Americans and their world view which should define the view of the world, otherwise there could be some international hostility. Pai rubbed some needed balm into the President’s position when he summarized the President’s position in the opening lines of his response in the following manner:

“Mr. President, as you observed, America must win the race to 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity.  And this matters for two key reasons:

“The first is national competitiveness.  We want the good-paying jobs that develop and deploy 5G technologies — jobs that support some of the folks in this room — to be created here, in America.  We want these technologies to give our economy a leg up as we compete against the rest of the world.

“The second reason U.S. leadership matters is that 5G will improve Americans’ lives in so many ways, from precision agriculture, to smart transportation networks, to telemedicine, and more.  We want Americans to be the first to benefit from this new digital revolution while protecting our innovators and our citizens.  And as you pointed out, Mr. President, we don’t want rural Americans to be left behind.”

Mind you these fellows are standing in the wreckage of COVID-19 to talk about their place in an unfolding monstrous technology.

As it was in 1961..…

May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy made his epochal Man on the Moon speech to the joint session of the US Congress requesting for funds to enable America land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. At the time the Soviet Union were miles ahead by sending the Sputnik into space in 1957. The United States wanted to expand history in a battle the country must win by landing a man on the moon and returning him to base safely.

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In what may look then as unusual futurism, Kennedy stated: “Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share……

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

The President had given an order. Between 1960 and 1973 about $28bn (about $283bn in today’s inflation) was spent on the Apollo project with over 400, 000 people working behind the scene.

July 20, 1969, American landed Apollo 11 on the moon with a spaceship that carried Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins. Neil Armstrong became the first man ever to walk on the moon and he planted the American flag firmly as a totem of American adventurism and dominance in perpetuity.

I was in the primary school in 1969. Within the period, Nigeria, unable to manage promising independence, had graduated into a full scale war. We heard of Apollo 11 on radio as it was celebrated all over the world. But what was our response as a people? Answer. When people develop red eyes because of some infections, it was called Apollo, some kind of punishment for looking at the sky for too long a time. But the ailment was actually conjunctivitis, thanks to my Secondary school teachers at ACC, Irrua, years later.

As it was in 1961……

Nigeria has not been sleeping concerning 5G. November 25, 2019, MTN had a public demonstration of three months trial of 5G technology. The excitementand aplomb that greeted that occasion gleefully celebrated by even government officials have nearly now been attenuated by feeble response of the Ministry of Communications and Digital economy to the controversy that trailed 5G’s role in the outbreak of COVID-19.

Thankfully, the Regulator came out with a very firm position declaring, “There is no correlation between 5G Technology and COVID-19. 5G is an advancement on todays’ 4G technology designed to transform the world positively.”

NCC also noted that “in line with our regulatory process with respect to technology neutrality, type-approval and other regulations are aimed at protecting the citizens  and ensuring standards are complied with in the Nigerian telecoms industry; NCC ensures that adequate trial is conducted before a new technology is introduced.”

Interesting. But here is my observation. In 1969, when humans walked on the moon we shouted (Apollo) eye infection. 1n 2023, when a new wave of technology is taking over the world we are shouting Coronavirus.

This burlesque must stop. The NCC must dust up its books, study the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 afresh and plan for Nigeria postCOVID-19.

5G is a monster of technology. Whoever controls it controls the future of the world. No doubt we can’t control it but we must harvest its advantages the way we harvested the advantages of mobile technology (GSM in our local understanding).


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