Mobile services giant Orange is working with solar energy expert GreenWish Partners to deploy hybrid-powered telecom towers in Africa that could significantly improve the network operator's energy efficiency and reduce its operating costs.
According to a Bloomberg report, Orange (NYSE: FTE), one of Africa's biggest mobile services players with operations in 19 markets and more than 100 million customers across the continent, plans to install its radio access network (RAN) technology on 250 GreenWish Partners telecom towers in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year.
GreenWish hopes that will be just the beginning of its relationship with Orange – it expects to partner with the operator, which reported an upturn in its Middle East & Africa business in the second quarter, in other markets across the continent, including Egypt, Senegal and Ivory Coast. (See Orange Trumpets Africa Boost in Q2 .)
The relationship with Orange represents just a small part of what GreenWish has planned for the telecom tower sector in Africa: Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian, the founder and CEO of GreenWish, told Bloomberg that the company aims to install 3,000 towers across several countries by 2018 and 10,000 towers by 2020, investing US$800 million in the process, and is seeking other mobile network operator partners.
GreenWish believes its hybrid power strategy – solar power in addition to battery and diesel -- can drastically reduce the cost of telecom tower power by 30%. For small towers, Aubin-Kalaidjian believes solar energy and battery power can be sufficient, while for larger towers diesel consumption can be reduced by "at least 60%."
Those kind of numbers will be very attractive to many operators: It seems inevitable that other major telcos with mobile network operations in multiple markets will team up with GreenWish as its rolls out its network of solar-powered towers.
— Ray Le Maistre, , International Group Editor, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.