Kenyans derailing ICT expansion

June 25, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – Kenya’s communications regulator has decried the rising number of resident associations that are moving to court to block the deployment of ICT infrastructure in their neighbourhoods.

Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) Director General Charles Njoroge said on Thursday that these lawsuits were frustrating the government’s efforts to lay communication infrastructure particularly in the rural areas where it is urgently needed.

“The rising number of litigation constitutes a major hindrance to the government’s universal access policy objectives and the private sector’s strategy of expanding their footprint in an increasingly competitive market,” he regretted.

He blamed this phenomenon on a lack of awareness which has seen people become wary of these equipment and the perceived dangers of exposure to harmful radiation.

While arguing that there is no scientific evidence yet to suggest the presence of dangerous emissions from the gadgets, Mr Njoroge acknowledged the need to reconcile these concerns in order to ensure the growth of the ICT sector.

“As a commission, we have a role to protect the interests of the ICT consumers on one hand and a role to ensure that investors are able to expand the network. They have to use masts to expand the wireless services,” the DG pointed out referring to mobile phone operators who use these technologies.

Recent surveys indicate that the Radio Frequency exposure from base stations range from 50 to 500 times below the upper limits recommended by the World Health Organisation. This range is lower or similar to exposures from radio and television broadcast transmitters.

The need to respond to these complaints has seen the Commission constitute a stakeholder committee comprising regulators, consumer representatives and other government agencies. A Code of Practice for building this infrastructure has been developed to this effect.

Public awareness campaigns such as CCK’s ‘Chukua Hatua’ are being rolled out to educate consumers on such issues, Mr Njoroge told a stakeholders’ workshop on environmental concerns.

Meanwhile, Mr Njoroge warned that companies still holding on to idle broadcast frequencies would have their licenses cancelled next week.

He said the revoked frequencies will then be assigned to operators who are ready to use them.

“We are crying that there’s crime and no employment but if put into use that frequency would create jobs. What we are saying is that there are other people who are willing to invest and create employment,” he said of the frequencies, some of which were issued years back.

Most of the companies that will be affected after the June 30th deadline are those outside Nairobi, he explained.

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