KAMPALA November 8, 2022. Helen Nakiguli, of UCC was one of the lead facilitators during a virtual consultative and benchmarking workshop between Uganda Communications Commission, and the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority [BOCRA] on issues relating to the measurement and compliance monitoring of ICT infrastructure Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) levels and Specific Absorption Rate. The objective of the workshop was to share our country experience and international best practice in the field of evaluating human exposure to EMF and share updates on ongoing work being undertaken in the ITU-T Study Group 5, to which Helen is the Chairperson and leader of the African group.
In line with its regulatory mandate of setting national standards and ensuring compliance to both national and international standards and obligations, UCC
- Contributes to the development and implementation of international and national standards and guidelines for ICT generated Radio Frequency (RF) energy levels and ICT ecosystem sustainability. This, it undertakes, to build public confidence in the safety of ICT infrastructure and devices as well as reduce the negative impact of ICTs on the environment.
- Conducts research and studies on the technical and social aspects of ICT generated RF energy and ICT ecosystem sustainability to form a basis for compliance evaluation in line with the set standards.
The thematic areas within this function include – 1. Human RF exposure level evaluation, 2. Circular economy – Design, manufacture, Responsible consumption and safe disposal of ICT equipment and devices & 3. Energy and resource efficiency – Net Zero of ICTs,)
In her presentation this Morning, Helen shared Uganda’s experience and global insights on:
- Usual public concerns/uncertainty about the safety of telecommunications base station installations in proximity to human settlements. These concerns have been found to the same for the public in developed and developing countries
- Strategies on safe disposal of ICT generated e-waste and aspects of sustainability including at design, manufacture, Responsible consumption, safe disposal, energy and resource efficiency of ICT equipment, devices and services.
Her presentation also highlighted the methodology and equipment used by UCC for the “National survey on conformity of telecommunications base stations in Uganda to the ITU recommendations and ICNIRP guidelines” and other investigative measurements, which are done periodically countrywide and on needs basis. The computation methodology therein is referenced to the ITU recommendations and the ICNIRP guidelines. Helen also shared our country experience on consumer awareness and information dissemination strategies in response to the social perception about the safety of ICT devices and infrastructure.
Findings from our last National survey
In the last national survey that was conducted between April 2021 and March 2022, countrywide, it was found that the highest mean value of the ICNIRP maximum value (%) was 0.008%, which is much lower than the public reference level (100%) of the ICNIRP guidelines. Even for the collocated sites with multiple installations, even though the values were slightly higher than those of the single installations, they were still much lower than the public reference level of the ICNIRP guidelines.
This means that all the sites were found to be compliant to the acceptable levels of EMF emissions
The public interviews conducted in the communities with close proximity to the masts indicated that a person’s level of education has no bearing on uncertainty about the presence of base station sites in their proximity and underscored the need for more awareness to increase confidence in the safety of the telecommunications infrastructure
For the full report, Visit the link https: //www.ucc.co.ug/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/National-EMF-survey-August-2022.pdf for the full report.
Sections 5(1)(h) & 5(1)(q) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 mandates UCC to coordinate and collaborate with relevant national and international organizations representing communications, as well as represent Uganda at national and international fora in matters related to the Commission’s functions. In execution of this mandate, UCC seeks to contribute to national and institutional visibility through positioning Uganda as a leading think-tank in international ICT policy and technical dialogue. This is one of many such engagements. UCC has hosted delegations from other countries including Zambia, South Sudan, Malawi. Countries have sought and continue to seek benchmarking engagements with UCC on regulatory aspects like implementation of CERTs, Universal Service Funds, and Security of Digital Financial services among others.