Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Connectivity

Zambia's prolonged power blackouts negatively impacting telcos

Article Image
Rolling power blackouts across Zambia are putting pressure on the country's mobile networks, costing operators money, and impacting services for mobile customers.

The Global System for Mobile Association of Zambia (GSMAZ) has complained that these prolonged blackouts have negatively impacted the telecommunications sector. MTN Zambia, Airtel Zambia and Zamtel, which make up the GSMAZ, released a joint statement saying that power outages lasting more than four hours compromised the quality of services provided to customers.

"The Telecommunications sector is one of Zambia's key economic enablers for sustained business growth and social development," the GSMAZ explained.

The cause of prolonged power cuts

In January 2023, severe climate change and unpredictable weather events caused the world's largest man-made lake by volume, Lake Kariba, to lose more than 98% of its water. Lake Kariba previously generated 1,080 megawatts of electricity output for Zambia and 1,050 megawatts for Zimbabwe.

According to the website LifeGate Daily, the drop led Zambia's state-owned power utility ZESCO – which supplies energy to over 80% of the country – to increase the length of blackouts from six hours to 12 hours at the time.

"Zambia is going through the worst climate change effects ever experienced in the last 60 years of its independence and everyone has been impacted in one way or another at both individual levels as well as institution and sector level," the GSMAZ continued.

The group added that its more than 3,500 combined tower sites are connected to Zambia's national grid.

"The power backup at the telecom sites is generally designed to last up to a maximum of four hours, however, owing to the current unprecedented 13 to 14 hours of daily load shedding, there is a huge cost variance not only for the fuel and generator maintenance but also for the associated fuel delivery logistics for the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)," the GSMAZ explained.

"Though backup power is available at these sites through generators, instances when there is electricity downtime, and extended load shedding hours, our provision of quality of service is compromised as the generators now require constant refueling and more frequent servicing cycles," the statement added.

The GSMAZ said power outages lasting more than four hours compromised the quality of telecom services provided to customers.   (Source: Image by Image by evening_tao on Freepik )
The GSMAZ said power outages lasting more than four hours compromised the quality of telecom services provided to customers.
(Source: Image by Image by evening_tao on Freepik )

GSMAZ said its members are working closely with tower providers, regulators and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to the crisis. Moreover, it added that among the measures considered in the medium to long term are solar-based backup solutions.

African telcos battle blackouts

The energy crisis in Africa has forced telcos to come up with solutions to protect infrastructure and provide customers with services.

In South Africa for instance, telcos have for years, been battling blackouts that are part of deliberate "load shedding" by state-owned power utility Eskom, which it began implementing back in 2007.

To help mitigate ongoing power blackouts in South Africa, in March 2023, MTN SA invested US$84.3 million toward getting its basestations completely off grid.

Furthermore, in August 2023, Vodacom SA and Eskom signed a "virtual wheeling agreement"" aimed to help accelerate efforts to solve the country's energy crisis. "Wheeling" is a process of moving privately generated power to customers across national government-owned power grids and is gaining traction in South Africa as a way to bridge energy shortfalls.


Want to know more? Sign up to get the weekly Connecting Africa newsletter direct to your inbox.


Vodacom South Africa has spent more than US$214 million since 2020 on backup power solutions. The telco said that the wheeling agreement played a significant role in moving it closer to its goal of sourcing 100% of its electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2025.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Mario Caruso on Unsplash.

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Vodacom Tanzania unveils Digital Accelerator Program winners

Mobile operator Vodacom Tanzania has announced the season three winners of its Digital Accelerator Program.

Story

AI's potential in African agriculture, energy and climate action – GSMA

A new GSMA report examines the huge potential for artificial intelligence to support Africa's socio-economic growth in areas including agriculture, energy and climate action.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives

Story

Leadership Lessons: Networking towards career advancement

By Nollie Maoto

Nollie Maoto, First Rand Group's compliance chief data and analytics officer and Africa Tech Festival Leadership Council member, reflects on the importance of networking for career growth especially for African women in data analytics.

Story

Leadership Lessons: The importance of mentorship for career growth

By Nollie Maoto

Nollie Maoto, First Rand Group's compliance chief data and analytics officer and Africa Tech Festival Leadership Council member, reflects on the importance of mentorship for career growth for African women in data analytics.

More Guest Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Cyber Revolution Summit
August 9, 2024
Gaborone, Botswana
Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 12-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

Story

The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Follow us on X

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up
Tag id test-002