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Orange converting main African data center to solar

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Orange, the pan-African operator, has announced it is joining forces with French utility company Engie to convert Orange's main data center in Africa, the Groupment Orange Services (GOS) in Côte d'Ivoire, to solar power.

This is the latest of the group's projects in Africa and the Middle East to reduce its environmental impact, as the company aims to reach net zero by 2040.

The data center was built in 2016 in Grand Bassam, Côte d'Ivoire, on a site covering 16,600 square meters. The GOS is a resource-pooling entity for Orange's 18 Middle East and Africa subsidiaries, which provides pooled hosting and infrastructure operation services, service platforms and IT to all the subsidiaries.

Orange has signed an energy-as-a-service (EaaS) contract with Engie to convert the GOS to solar power by installing a solar plant on rooftops and solar carports, for a total installed capacity of 355 kWp (kilowatt peak).

The project is scheduled to be commissioned in the second half of 2022 and will reduce Orange's environmental footprint, minimize the share of commercial electricity from non-renewable sources and avoid using fuel generators.

Off-grid ambitions

"This project is a first in West Africa for Orange in terms of its size and scope and it perfectly illustrates our ambition to speed up our solar projects in order to achieve net zero carbon by 2040," Alioune Ndiaye, chairman and CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, said in a statement.

"In the rest of Africa and the Middle East we have already implemented several initiatives, [such] as equipping 5,400 telecoms sites by solar panels and building solar farms in Jordan and Mali. We intend to go further," Ndiaye added.

In May of last year, the group had already achieved a renewable energy use rate of over 50% for Orange Guinea, 41% for Orange Madagascar and 40% for Orange Sierra Leone.

The Côte d'Ivoire plant will be made up of 784 latest-generation photovoltaic cells and will provide the data center with an estimated 527 MWh/year of renewable energy.

Its architecture was designed to work seven days a week in self-consumption mode and will cover close to 60% of the data center's daytime (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) consumption.

The initiative to convert the GOS to solar power is also consistent with the plan adopted by the government of Côte d'Ivoire, which aims to make the country the sub-region's energy hub by 2030 with 42% of renewables in the energy mix.

Orange is present in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East and had around 130 million customers as at the end of September 2021. With €5.8 billion (US$6.6 billion) in turnover in 2020, the region is the group's main growth region.

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*Top image source: Technology photo created by pvproductions - www.freepik.com.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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