GIFEC to educate Ghanaians on electro-magnetic fields
The Ghana Investments Funds for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) would from next year rely more on the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to educate Ghanaians on Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF) and the perceived health effects of masts.
That reliance on the NCCE could also help the GIFEC in the achievement of its main objectives as provided in the Electronic Communications Act 775 promulgated in 2008.
Mr. Kofi Attor, a former Member of Parliament and administrator of GIFEC, announced this at the end of a one-day workshop on EMF exposure and health on Tuesday in Sunyani.
The workshop was aimed at creating public awareness on communications masts and deepening the understanding of EMF exposure and health.
It was organised and sponsored by GIFEC under the auspices of Ministry of Communications and was the ninth in the nationwide series of regional workshops. The next and last in the process will take place in Kumasi on Thursday.
About 700 participants including traditional and religious leaders, public and civil servants, members of non-governmental and civil society organisations, the media as well as students attended.
Mr. Attor said GIFEC would organise a seminar on the subject to equip all district directors of NCCE with the relevant knowledge and information to embark on nationwide campaigns in schools and communities.
We need to reach out to the greatest number of Ghanaians, if not all on the issue of EMF exposure and perceived health effects from the Masts, he said.
The GIFEC administrator stressed the need for the agreement with NCCE to continue with the education, after inputs from experts and professionals in the area commended the participation as the highest number in all the regions.
He observed the participants co-operated and participated actively and expressed the hope that this spirit would be translated into continuous education by participants, especially, students in their schools and communities.
Dr. Joseph Kwabena Amoako, head of Radiation Protection Institute (RPI) of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, by a slide presentation addressed the workshop on “Radio Signals from Mobile Phone Base Stations-What are Radio Signals, Levels of Radio Signals from Base Stations in Ghana and Responding to community fears”.
He explained that radiation levels from base stations were quite minimal and that effects from mobile phones radiation were higher and more dangerous than radiation from masts.
Dr. Amoako stated the general public had right to be concerned about the perceived health effects of radiation from masts but explained that with the current low levels of radiation, there was no cause to worry, as long as radiation levels were kept reasonably low by operators.
He allayed fears of the general public that mobile phones caused cancer saying, currently, there was no scientific evidence that the gadget could cause cancer because there was only limited and inadequate information about that.
He therefore said because there had not been conclusive evidence on the perceived causal effects of mobile phones, users must take precautionary approach and measures such as limiting the time spent in talking to avoid any effect.
Other resource persons were Ms. Audrey Quarcoo, Principal programme Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Mrs. Jennifer Mensah, Senior Officer at the National Communications Authority (NCA).
Ms. Quarcoo through slide presentation spoke on “Roles of EPA- Relevant Environmental Regulations, Environment Permits for Base Stations in Ghana and EPA assessment of application”.
Mrs. Mensah, also on slide educated participants on the “Role of NCA- Importance of Mobile Communications to Ghana, Need for Communication Towers and Ghana Guidelines for Communication Towers”.
Mr. Ernest Attuquaye Amarh, Deputy Minister of Communications, in a keynote address, said the perceived health effects of radio frequency (RF) had arisen out of the lack of public understanding of the differences between “ionizing and non-ionizing radiation”.
According to him, data gathered by the EPA in 2009 on the analysis of public complaints of communication mast revolved around perceived health effects of radiation, closeness of mast towers to residential areas and schools, noise from generators, concentration of masts in an area, public safety and lack of neighbourhood consent before erection of towers for masts installation.
During a forum, participants asked questions that ranged from standard rate of call charges by mobile phone companies and what regulatory bodies were doing to avoid exploitation of consumers by the operators.
Nana Owusu Sakyi III, Paramount Chief of Basa Traditional Area in Sene District who presided for the Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi II, president of Brong-Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs observed that despite its importance in accelerating socio-economic development, Information Communication Technology (ICT) had its adverse effects.
He noted besides being used to cause all sorts of crimes, it was affecting the standard of education in the country because of addiction by pupils and students.
Students and pupils must therefore not be obsessed with the use of mobile phones and other ICT facilities like the internet to the detriment of their studies, he said.