5g Technology: Its Opportunities And Challenges

While this paper reviews the opportunities and challenges of the 5G Technology, it focuses on the developing West African Country, Nigeria. It first describes the need for digital transformation as a tool for innovation and development in the country and looks into the tendency of the 5G technology as a great innovation strategy. Additionally, the text explores the description of the 5G technology, the opportunities it may create for the country, and any challenges against its deployment.

Despite the soothing accolade, Nigeria bears as the giant of Africa, companies in the country still have a long way to go in being among the world's Big Techs. This, to some extent, is because of the country's minimal stride towards implementing a brilliant tech-driven innovation strategy. Digital transformation, according to Innolytics, is the gradual transition of existing economic and social systems into the digital age. It is technology-driven and determines the future of the economy and society.

  1. If targeted squarely, it could spur innovation, competitiveness, research, and development. Contributing impressively to the nation's standard of living and, importantly, empowering the country technologically. Jan Walliser, Vice President, Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, stated that Understanding how to promote innovation in developing countries was more important than ever, given the new wave of digitalization and automation that is rapidly altering economies around the world.
  2. Whether focusing on the deployment of the 5G Technology would build a strong foundation for successful innovation in Nigerian firms or not, the decision cannot be merely determined by assumptions. The Opportunities and Challenges that the technology presents have to be carefully evaluated. The ITU defines the 5G technology (or the fifth generation of mobile technologies) as the next generation of mobile standards, which promises to deliver an improved end-user experience by offering new applications and services through gigabit speeds and significantly improved performance and reliability.
  3.  Through the greater use of the radio spectrum, it is set to allow various devices to access the internet at the same time.
  4. The declaration of the ITU over the 5G Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as fields of innovation necessary for enabling smarter societies. 
  5. It may be a good ground for Nigeria to embrace the technology. Its high-frequency bands and low latency allows 5G to provide a thrilling business and consumer experience, where broadband services will be improved, enabling high-speed internet services like uploading and downloading content, Video Conferencing, and Instant Messaging. In the Education sector, it could facilitate e-learning as more educational content such as digital textbooks will be uploaded to the Internet, boosting classroom experiences. Students could gain practical knowledge/training with the application of smart glasses with virtual and augmented realities or 3D Videos. In the Health Sector, it could promote e-health, telemedicine, and faster mobile healthcare services. Doctors and their patients could monitor their health through wearable fitness devices, alerting them when an emergency arises.
  6. While self-driving cars may not be realistic in Nigeria due to varying factors like poor road network and high traffic in areas like Lagos, the 5G technology could help improve traffic monitoring, smart street lights, and transport systems/appliances ideal for the country. Improved quality of security video cameras and alert systems and drone operations (which can prove beneficial in assessing fires during an outbreak and carrying out search and rescue missions ) will aid the country curb insecurity. Businesses like Real Estate and tourism/hospitality may benefit from instituting smart homes and providing virtual properties; and manufacturing industries by application of industrial automation. Live-streaming farm products to both local and international crowds could also help boost the agricultural sector, having a great impact on the local population by curbing poverty. The 5G technology will also enhance the use of e-commerce sites in Nigeria due to its capacity to handle high traffic and its low latency. It could also make governance more participative by enhancing online voting/digital democratic participation. However, though the 5G technology provides great opportunities, its deployment presents certain challenges. Top on the list is its high cost of investment and energy consumption. A report showed that the cost estimated to deploy a small cell-ready 5G network assuming fiber backhaul is commercially feasible, can range from USD 6.8 million for a small city to USD 55.5 million for a larger dense city!
  7.  Even disturbing is the lack of extensive fiber infrastructure in the country, as fiber network coverage is not ubiquitous. This is important as it is the most suitable backhaul by mobile operators due to its longevity, high capacity, high reliability, and ability to support very high capacity traffic.
  8.   The inadequate power supply is also a hurdle to 5G deployment. According to Huawei days on RRU/BBU needs per site, the typical 5G site has power needs of over 11.5 kilowatts, up nearly 70% from a base station deploying a mix of 2G, 3G, and 4G radios.
  9.  These challenges may seem like a great hurdle to subdue or not; nonetheless, operators, policy-makers, and industries would need to take caution either way. The need for 5G though not pressing, could be beneficial.
  10.  Yet, before a decision is taken regarding the deployment of the technology, the existing 4G networks should be enhanced and improved, especially in rural areas, since lower-frequency bands are better over longer distances.11 A more sustainable source of energy like natural gas and solar energy should be harnessed to meet the growing demands of emerging technological and industrial innovations.


1, 2 "What is Industrialization?" innolytics.ag. Accessed June 26th, 2021. https://innolyticsinnovation.com/what-is-digitalization/

3, 5 pp.1 /8 pp.12&13 /10 pp.9. ITU. Setting the Scene for 5G: Opportunities and Challenges. Switzerland, Geneva: Telecommunication Development Bureau Place des Nations, 2018.

4, 6, 11 "What is 5G and what will it mean for you?" BBC News. Accessed June 26th, 2021. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44871448.amp

7 http://www.techradar.com/news/eu-backed-groups-warns-about-5g-claims/

9 "5G base stations use a lot more energy than 4G base stations: MTN." fierce-wireless. Accessed June

28th, 2021. https://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/5g-base-stations-use-a-lot-more-energy-than-4g-base- stations-says-mtn

"Innovation & Growth: Digital India initiative digitalizes Indian economy." CGTN. Accessed June 26th, 2021. https://news.cgtn.com/news/354d6a4d32557a6333566d54/share.html

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