Mr John Odey, the Minister of Environment, on Tuesday in Abuja stressed the need for adequate inventory of existing telecommunications masts and base stations in the country.
He also called for proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on new installations in accordance with the law. Odey made the call at an interactive session with key stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, organised by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
He said companies should install optimizers, certified by NESREA, in all generators at base stations, to control emission levels from such equipment. â€œIf the operators are using optimizers, it will help reduce emission going into the atmosphere, which is causing climate change,â€™â€™ he added. Odey said although the telecommunications industry had impacted positively on the economy and lives in the last eight to ten years, it should not be allowed to hamper peopleâ€™s health and environment.â€œWe must balance the social, economic and environmental aspects of our development,â€ he said.The minister commended the efforts of all telecommunications infrastructure investors for ensuring a hitch-free sector performance, and stressed the need for precautionary measures when erecting masts. He urged all stakeholders in the sector to work together and proffersolutions to problems associated with telecommunications operations. Mrs Ngeri Benebo, NESREA Director-General, had earlier said that radiation from telecommunications masts posed a risk to human health.She identified inadequate power supply as one of the challenges confronting the operation of the base stations.
â€œInadequate power supply is one the problems operators are facing and they rely on other sources of power generation to power their equipment,â€™â€™ she said. Benebo called attention to the implications of locating base stations in residential areas, schools and hospitals.She said the forum was aimed at identifying ways and options to mitigate the negative impact of telecommunications mast installation and facilitating harmonious working relationship with stakeholders.
Dr Francis Beka, the Chief Executive officer of Inter-Environment Limited, also expressed concern over the growing concentration of masts, especially in urban centres. The development, he noted, created a telemast density with obvious adverse impact on environmental aesthetics. He urged operators to bear in mind the environmental implications of telecommunications technology and reduce the impact on environmental aesthetics.