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Quick take: VP Osinbajo’s answer to the 5G question is disappointing

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Quick take: VP Osinbajo’s answer to the 5G question is disappointing

According to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Nigerian government has no way forward on the issue of the 5G network technology. He disclosed this during his interactive session at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York during his trip to the United States.

What happened: VP Osinbajo was asked to weigh in on the 5G war between the United States and China and the controversy surrounding Chinese company Huawei, whose ties with the Chinese intelligence has been flagged as a security risk by several countries. The VP said: “We haven’t gone through any kind of decision making for rolling out the 5G technology”. 

  • He added: “as a matter of fact we are going to roll out 5G ourselves.” (How?)
  • On Huawei, he said: “we practically welcome every company that wants to do business with us in Nigeria. Huawei is in Nigeria and so are all the other technology companies.”

Why it matters: VP Osinbajo’s statement is incorrect and quite embarrassing to a country of Nigeria’s standing. Nigeria is probably Africa’s most important mobile market with about 174 million active lines (Jan 2019 NCC data).

Although Nigeria lags behind a few African countries such as South Africa in terms of commercializing 5G, it is not true that the country has no stance on the issue. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigeria will roll out 5G networks commercially (26, 38 and 42GHz spectrum) in 2020 and has started trial testing of the rollout plan.

In 2018, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Umar Danbatta said at an event, that the government is not looking to reinvent the wheel: “We will rely on existing policies and regulationand still come up with additional policies and regulation that will address any hiccups.”

Bottomline: VP Osinbajo flunked the question on 5G, and he needs to keep up with what is happening. However, Nigerians should not have their hopes up about 5G — at the moment 4G network penetration in Nigeria is just 4%, which means we still have a long way to go.

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