The business case for green power in telecoms is an established fact and proven technology choices have given way to the possibility that commercial adoption is a reality. Some countries including China and India have seen an accelerated adoption of green power in telecoms and achieved scale, however it is still far from mainstream adoption.
The case for green power adoption in Africa’s telecom industry is more challenging, not so much due to technical barriers, but due to the operational barriers. Despite the good potential for green power, especially for solar, adoption is still very much in its initial stages. A quick view at the field level operations and its imminent intricacies gives an idea of the handicapped adoption of green power in telecoms.
The MNOs and tower companies are constantly on the lookout for partners and long term operational support to enable successful adoption of green power at a scale. The industry is still to see a proven model for energy provision through the ESCO model: an energy outsourcing model bringing in a third party energy service company (ESCO).
In the past, energy provision to the telecom infrastructure has been short-sighted owing to its exponential growth focusing on service expansion and coverage. With increased competition and demand for quality services at reduced prices, the focus on cost of operations should move from short term quick fixes to a long term strategic view in order to sustain margins and market share.
Energy remains a key contributor to the costs of operating mission critical telecom assets. The MNOs and tower companies need to look at green power as a strategic step towards OPEX reduction and sustainable energy provision with positive environmental impacts. The key is in implementation of green power strategy and monitoring with fool proof operational processes to sustain and realise investment benefits.
The Green Power for Mobile (GPM) programme, with its renewed focus for Africa, is keen to assist MNOs, TowerCos and other stakeholders in the industry through its expertise in technology, business model development and end-end technical assistance. Nigeria is one of key focus markets for GPM, along with Ghana in West Africa, with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda being other key focus markets in East Africa.