Professor Isa Pantami, the Minister Communications and Digital Economy, yesterday assured that the deployment of 5G technology in the country would begin in January 2022.

Pantami said all the four mobile network operators (MNOs) in the country suffered 16, 000 outages over the last seven months of this year due to infrastructure vandalism.

The Minister however assured that when the 5G network is deployed, it would aid surveillance against vandalism of public assets.

Pantami, spoke in Maiduguri at a Town Hall Meeting to address vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure.

Represented by the Commissioner for Technical Services at Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Ubale Maska, the minister said the 5G network was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council for increased connectivity.

He said while the technology would boost surveillance against criminal elements vandalising public infrastructure across the country, other measures should be put in place to arrest them and bring them to book.

The minister disclosed that there were over 50,000 telecommunication sites across the country, which made it difficult to man manually except through deployment of modern technology.

He also urged the National Assembly to expedite passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill for onward submission to the President for assent.

The outages, according to him were due to optic fiber cuts, access denial and theft leading to service disruption in the affected areas

He noted that protection of the critical infrastructural facility was vital to the nation’s security, economic vitality, public health and safety.

He decried the situation where telecoms installations that were destroyed in the attacks by terrorists, had not been replaced as a result of the lingering insecurity and tensions in parts of the North East.

As a way forward, the minister recommended continuous stakeholders buying-in and synergy among security forces.

The event, organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, was attended by the Borno State Governor. Babagana Zulum and his Deputy, Usman Kadafur and other stakeholders.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed led the other ministers who were panelists at the town hall meeting.

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