Africa’s telecommunications industry has witnessed tremendous boom since inception. Services have become increasingly competitive as local and international companies compete for market share in the industry that has been set back by low energy and poor power supply especially in the Sub-Saharan region.
Greenwish Partners, a renewable energy company has announced its plans to invest 800million USD on solar powered telephone towers across Africa. The project promises to fuel economic growth by providing power in Africa for essential services that has hindered household productivity and business growth.
Africa has more than 240,000 telecommunication towers that transport signals to and from mobile phones. Most times, the telecom towers are powered by diesel generators due to poor network and power access and hybrid systems developed by Greenwish partners aims to combine a solar panel, a battery and a diesel generator to provide complete off-grid reliability.
IHS Towers, the largest mobile telecommunications infrastructure provider in Africa, which currently controls all 16,000 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), popularly called base stations, belonging to all GSM companies in the country, has revealed that it spends N2.6 billion monthly on diesel, to power the base stations.
Nigeria Communications Week investigations reveal that with adoption of co-location model by telecom operators and sale of towers to tower operators by GSM operators among others, telecommunications tower operators in the country spend some $80 million every month in the maintenance of towers they are operating.
It was also gathered that presently 25,000 towers are actively in use by operators and it cost $3,500 to manage a tower housing three to five base stations while a tower housing a single base station cost $2,750 to manage every month.
Telecom towers houses base stations that Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and 4G internet service providers use to deliver services to their customers.
According to Takehiro Kawahara, the frontier power analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “Given cost of solar has been declining rapidly and energy cost for off-grid towers are high, tower owners are incentivized to switch to hybrid systems”.
The energy company, Greenwish Partners, focuses on clean power generation for industrial customers and renewable energy projects on the grid and has built a 27-megawatt solar panel in Senegal has an existing pipeline to install 350 megawatts in West Africa.