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How 5G will affect human rights in Africa


Panelists at Paradigm Initiative’s 2019 Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum held at Radisson Blu hotel Ikeja, Lagos. 

Digital rights advocates Wednesday said the introduction of 5th generation mobile network in Africa will change the landscape around user privacy and internet accessibility.

These advocates stated this during Paradigm Initiative’s 2019 Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum held at Radisson Blu hotel Ikeja, Lagos.

Legal officer Media Rights Agenda Morisola Alaba said 5G will have its benefits when introduced to the African space but countries might not be ready for its implementation.

“Currently with 4G, we could see a very wide digital divide,” Alaba said.

“more than the quarter of the world population are not connected to the internet. Moving on to 5G may create more digital division digital activist are trying to curb,” she added

Program and policy expert Global Network Initiative Nikki Bourassa, however, stated that looking beyond the disadvantages of 5G, there is a need to concentrate on the advantages.

She said the introduction of 5G offers a lot of opportunities to users such as the increase in internet transmission speed and the availability for many users to connect at once.

“5G will create a lot of opportunities for modern technologies. It can be connected to toasters, cars refrigerators etc,” Bourassa added.

But Alaba opined that introduction of 5G might not aid digital inclusion of people in some part of Africa, sighting rural areas at a major disadvantage.

She said the cost of obtaining a 5G smartphone and SIM card will be too expensive for the lower class in the society.

Alaba further stated that there is need to get lawmakers or government to understand the usefulness of internet before introducing 5G because of countries whose right to the internet and social media accessibility have been cut short still need to be checked.

She sighted Chad an African country that has taken down internet accessibility for the past 13months without little or nothing done to bring back the citizen’s access.

Alaba, however, said if 5G will be introduced, a policy guide of freedom of internet accessibility must be implemented.

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