Most African Mobile Providers Invest In Renewable Energy To Counter Power Shortages

Most African Mobile Providers Invest In Renewable Energy To Counter Power Shortages

From CIO. Story by Michael Malakata.

Persistent power shortages have added to the high cost of doing business in Africa, as most mobile phone service providers and business process outsourcing facilities are forced to use generators to power installations.

This has led operators including MTN to increase investments in renewable energy technologies in order to avoid reliance on the national grid.

The power outages are taking place at a time when the region is trying to convince international companies to invest in the telecom sector in order to improve communications, especially in rural areas of the continent.

Many African governments face the challenge of raising funds to invest in power generation to ensure sufficient electricity to support the growth of the telecom sector.

According to a recent report by the African Development Bank, more than 30 African countries are now experiencing power shortages and regular interruptions in telecom services. Frequent power outages, the report said, means lost sales and damaged equipment.

Nigerian Communications Commission Executive Vice Chairman Eugene Juwah said poor power supply is a direct cause of poor services by mobile phone operators.

“The greatest threat to the growth of telecoms and information technology sectors is the insufficient power supply,” Juwah said. “Only elimination of this problem will provide the critical success factor in finally eradicating quality of service challenges.”

Nigeria is Africa’s largest telecom market by investment and subscription, with over 140 million mobile phone subscribers.

Zambia’s minister of Communications and Transport Yamfwa Mukanga, meanwhile, said lack of power from the national grid remains a challenge to achieving the plan of rolling out effective communication services to rural areas.

Many of the communication towers built by the Zambian government to provide rural areas with communication services are not used due to lack of grid power.

…Energy experts blame African governments for failing to liberalize the energy sector, the way the telecom sector has been liberalized, so as to encourage private investment and competition.

Read more at CIO.