African governments should consider mobile emissions checks
An independent report on state of mobile emissions in Africa has sent shockwaves in the industry across the continent. Details have emerged that more than 20 countries are considering a proposal by researchers whether to change the “risk-based” approach of auditing mobile base stations for electromagnetic emissions after their report urged for urgent action on the issue. There has since been calls to strengthen compliance checks on mobile sites that have significantly increased after the revelations following auditing of close to 1,000 licenses for mobile sites from telecom companies in the last three years in six selected countries from East, Central, West and Southern African countries. Some experts have described the latest report as faulty for relying heavily on predictive reports provided by telcos as part of the licensing process undertaken for each new site. After scrutinizing the report, the methodology behind the reports proved to be highly conservative in estimates of the perceived emissions of those sites and my thinking is that there is need for increased audits of mobile base station sites in member states.
Whilst I recognize resource limitations, the relevant bodies should be able to conduct regular audits of telecommunication installations to ensure, and give confidence to communities, that these installations are compliant with respective emission standards if not harmonized standards if they at all exist. The low number of audit checks has demonstrated that relevant authorities are not listening to the concerns of the communities living near base stations. Countries lagging behind should establish organizations that have sufficient powers to mandate and audit industry compliance and I think they should be able to take a risk-based approach to ensure compliance and enforcement with the regulatory regimes that it administers, including but not limited to electromagnetic emission levels. There should be greater community consultation by telcos for new and upgraded mobile stations otherwise recent studies showing a rising number of people residing next to bases stations who have contracted cancer will continue.