Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator, plans to expand its use of Tesla batteries for its operations, in addition to providing backup power at base stations
“We have plans to scale up the use of the batteries at Econet core-network sites and other group installations,” the company said Thursday in an emailed response to questions, reports BNN Bloomberg. “The use of full hybrid and off-grid power solutions is even more urgent today, in light of the widening deficit between electricity demand and supply.”
Econet Wireless, has intensified deployment of hybrid batteries from Tesla as well as solar equipment to cover for revenue losses arising out of power outages.
Norman Moyo, chief executive of Distributed Power Africa, a member of the Econet group says: “We were impressed with the performance of Tesla Powerwall during the trial stage. It addresses the power backup requirements, offers 100% depth of discharge and has a wide temperature operating range. ”
Econet has installed 520 Powerwall batteries, with two going into each base station, which is reportedly the largest telecommunications project in which Tesla has participated to date.
Media reports say with Econet having about 1,300 base stations in the country, and two other mobile phone companies operating there, Distributed Power Africa intends to install more batteries and could eventually roll the project out to other power-starved countries in Africa, such as Zambia, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A telecommunications company said battery use reduced its dependence on diesel generators by 75%.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Moyo said: “Telecommunications have become the lifeblood of the economy. If the telecom network is down in Zimbabwe, you can’t do any transactions. ”
Criminal syndicates increasingly target South African mobile operators ’base stations, stealing or vandalising critical infrastructure like batteries, copper cables and diesel. The theft and vandalism of this infrastructure has resulted in the mobile operators losing hundreds of millions of rands.
The rate of vandalism and theft, especially multiple repeat incidents, sometimes forces the operators to abandon base stations due to unviable replacement costs, thereby adversely impacting network availability or quality in some areas.
The South African nation is also experiencing power outages lasting up to 18 hours a day, outages caused by a faulty coal power plant in Hwang and a regional drought that blocked the exit to the main hydropower station in Kariba.