Should someone have told you a few years ago that it would only take 2 years to reduce diesel consumption by up to 50% for the cellular communications towers in West Africa, you’d have raised an eyebrow. This not the case anymore: IHS Africa, a major telecommunications infrastructure provider, can from now count the largest solar-powered cell site dedicated to the telecommunications industry in Africa on its “done” checklist.
And it makes sense to make a type of investment like this in Africa: its rural communities don’t have access to the electricity grid or where there is access, it’s an expensive one. So they have to deal with a standalone power system, with an increasing need for solar-powered towers. This is a high potential source of revenue for mobile operators, but they too have to reduce the operational budget, improve the uptime and have the environment in mind.
So it’s no wonder that William Saad’s face, the IHS CTO displayed pride as he talked about its ten-year experience in diesel fuel reduction and site optimization techniques. He was also pleased about the operators who use small, single-operator solar powered cell sites near their bigger installations in an effort to decrease costs without cutting down on their power demand.
IHS’s long-term goal is to make sure its 4,000 generator-powered, diesel-guzzling West-African towers cut down 40-50% off their fuel demand, while continuing to invest in R&D with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency grant.