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South Africa among countries most sceptical about 5G

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South Africa is among the countries most sceptical about the development of 5G technology.

This is according to software testing firm Prolifics Testing, which utilised its online analytics tool Ahrefs to discover which countries in the world are most sceptical about 5G based on their online searches in relation to 5G.

According to Prolifics Testing, 5G is one of the pinnacle new technologies set to revolutionise everyday life.

Driven by its core benefit of super-fast low latency Internet, 5G has the strong potential to unlock the full capabilities of other advanced technologies like augmented reality and Internet of things, it says.

Despite these positive credentials, the firm points out that many are still cynical about 5G.

Prolifics Testing classified and grouped consistently recurring Google searches by individuals on 5G, such as “is 5G dangerous?”, “is 5G safe?”, “is 5G harmful?”, “does 5G pose health risks?” and “does 5G cause/spread coronavirus (COVID-19)?” as sceptical online searches about 5G.

From the Ahrefs database, 155 countries from across six continents were individually assessed for the sceptical 5G online searches research.

When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in SA last year, the country had to quell rumours that there was a connection between the deadly virus and the proliferation of 5G.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize refuted claims that 5G technology played a role in the conception or spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, labelling the theory as “fake news”.

The World Health Organisation also dismissed the suggestion that there is a link between the technology and the virus.

Mkhize explained: “We are dealing with a lot of fake news here. The reality is that 5G is a technology, and coronavirus is an organic infection that is based on a living viral agent.

“The coronavirus is not something that you can link to any technology. The form of spread is well described scientifically in terms of the viral agents and its behaviour is well-known. We have tracked this virus and we know it comes from animals.”

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) also recently hosted an event where it invited members of the media to unpack 5G technology standards and opportunities for industrialisation, as well as growing concerns raised by social media regarding 5G and human health.

However, all these efforts have done little to stop the spread of the conspiracy theory in SA.

According to the CSIR, is alleged that 5G technology causes several health effects, including the spread and mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In January, three telecommunications towers belonging to Vodacom and MTN were burnt following resurgence in conspiracy theories which link the emergence of COVID-19 to 5G.

Prolifics Testing found the US is in the number one spot, as Americans are the most hesitant about the emerging technology, with 374 700 sceptical online searches regarding 5G each month – the equivalent of 1 027 sceptical online searches per day.

In second position is the UK, where there are 93 400 online searches a month by Brits doubting and questioning various aspects of 5G.

Australia (32 970), Canada (22 680) and Poland (20 510) are among the other countries where there are more than 20 000 tentative online searches about 5G every month, ranking third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

South Africa is in eighth place, as there is an average of 13 780 dubious online queries about 5G per month by worried South Africans.

In SA, 5G networks are still in their infancy after the leading mobile operators deployed the technology in the metropolitan areas.

However, the technology is set to go mainstream after the country auctions the much-needed high-demand spectrum this month.

A new study by Africa Analysis says although 5G is in its infancy in SA, it could see 11 million subscribers and 43% population coverage in the next four years.

According to Prolifics Testing, there are 6 850 online searches a month by Nigerians (13th place) concerning the possible negative implications of 5G.

At the other end in 20th place is Denmark, where there is an average of 1 410 sceptical online searches each month by Danes relating to 5G.

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