Mobile phone towers’ radiation worries MPs

HARARE – Construction of mobile phone towers in residential areas has raised fears among legislators who are concerned about their constituents being exposed to radiation.

A mobile phone tower or base station sends or receives radio signals and is responsible for forming the cell area.

A typical cell tower is made up of the antennas, the tower or supporting structure, the hardware and a link back to the digital exchange which can either be a cable or wireless connection.

Harare West MDC MP Jessie Majome inquired during the National Assembly’s question and answer session on Wednesday what Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira was doing to ensure that communities near base stations are protected from the radiation.

“The government, … has drafted regulations that provide for the protection of citizens from harmful exposure to emissions from base stations. They provide for the estimation of exposure before a base station is built as well as measurement and monitoring of electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation near base stations after they have been built.

“The regulations are based on the latest guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU),” Mandiwanzira said in response.

He also said Potraz was in the process of procuring additional EMF measurement equipment which will be used for enforcement of the EMF framework.

“Potraz currently has only one measurement tool, but that tool does not distinguish between emissions from different operators, whereas the equipment that is now being put to tender for purchase will be able to distinguish which base station or which network is emitting particular radiation.

“I would imagine that this process should take no more than the second part of 2017… I am going to make sure that the regulatory authority fast tracks its processes to make sure that we procure this equipment,” added Mandiwanzira.

Majome asked the minister whether Zimbabwe had conducted a study to assess the impact of the radiation emitted by base stations.

“I just want to say that studies that have been carried out in other countries by WHO, the ICNIRP and the ITU have not shown any adverse effects so far.

“The measurements that Potraz has already carried out in the vicinity of a number of telecommunication installations have indicated that the EMF levels are well below the maximum WHO limits,” Mandiwanzira told the National Assembly.

Econet Wireless is the largest mobile network while NetOne, which is wholly-owned by the government and Telecel are the other two networks.

The three operators in Zimbabwe do not pay radiation tax, Mandiwanzira said. – Daily News