Contrary to the claims made by a portion of the population across the country protesting the setting up of telecommunication masts in their localities citing that it is affecting their health. However, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) Executive Director, Eng. Irene Kaggwa Ssewakambo has said the installation of masts has no discernible impact on human health.
This protest of the setting up of telecom masts in their localities threatens the telecom’s ability to enhance the quality of communication.
In a letter dated Aug. 08th, Eng. Ssewakambo stated that extensive research conducted by renowned institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) failed to yield substantial evidence supporting health risks associated with exposure to low electromagnetic fields.
Ssewakambo says the telecom masts are built following National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) approval and that they operate at low power, produce low electromagnetic field exposure levels in public areas, and are specifically designed for the environment they are located.
“Typically, base stations (masts) installed on the masts or rooftops are expected to operate within limits of exposure established by recognized bodies of scientists like the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection,” Ssewakambo said in a statement.
She further said, “These limits have been endorsed by the WHO and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and adopted· by various governments around the world for the protection of people living and working around such installations.”
Ssewakambo said UCC also undertakes inspections of operational installations around the country to ensure that the emissions at the various telecom masts are within the limits. permitted under the recognized international guidelines.
Telecom companies including MTN and Airtel are required to achieve 90% of the geographical boundary of Uganda — with a minimum obligation of providing voice and data services.
The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers, and internet companies, there’s no any link between telecom masts and illness, particularly cancer.
“There has been speculation regarding claims of illness clusters (particularly cancer) near base stations (masts). However, subsequent examinations by independent health authorities have not identified any true clusters linked with either proximity to the base stations or the low-level radio signals they transmit,” GSMA said.
Uganda’s growing demand for mobile services has necessitated the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure, comprising base transceiver stations — towers or masts, antenna, and other supporting equipment required to ensure appropriate network coverage and good quality of service and experience.
Currently, Uganda is estimated to have more than 34 million mobile phone subscriptions and thousands of telecom masts to facilitate communication.