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American Tower, Airtel Africa partner for greener towers

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Airtel Africa and American Tower Corporation's African operations – ATC Africa – are joining forces to make tower sites across the continent greener and reduce on-site fossil fuel consumption.

The groups have signed a "multi-year, multi-product agreement" which they say will leverage ATC Africa's existing portfolio of communications sites as well as new sites and products across its footprint in Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Uganda in support of Airtel Africa's network rollout.

The deal has big ambitions to help substantially increase connectivity on the continent, extend digital inclusion to underserved communities and advance the companies' mutual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction objectives.

"All new site development under the agreement will comply with ATC Africa's new green site specifications, which is expected to substantially reduce reliance on fossil fuels, while advancing American Tower's progress toward achieving its science-based targets (SBTs)," the tower operator said in a statement.

ATC established its presence in Africa in 2011 and now operates more than 23,000 sites across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.

Airtel Africa has a customer base of over 131 million users across 14 countries in Africa – primarily in East Africa and Central and West Africa – where it offers telecoms and mobile money services.

Green energy growth

The partnership is expected to reduce exposure to fuel price volatility for both ATC Africa and Airtel Africa. The parties have also committed to continue working together to convert existing telecommunications sites to ATC Africa's green site specifications over time.

ATC Africa said that to date it has already invested $300 million in energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy deployments and energy storage solutions to decrease on-site reliance on fossil fuels. The company has also earmarked additional investments to fund the implementation of future energy efficiencies.

"We continue to invest in infrastructure and distribution networks across the countries where we operate to support their economies and communities," said Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya, adding that sustainability is at the core of Airtel's strategy.

"Airtel Africa's environmental goals are aligned with ours and, as we expand digital reach on the African continent, we remain committed to reducing GHG emissions in tandem with our growth," added Marek Busfy, SVP and CEO of ATC Africa.

He said that as the group extends the platform services it offers it is also committed to introducing new and renewable sources of energy to power its sites, which will in turn protect the industry, customers and consumers from ongoing and future volatility in fuel prices.

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In addition, Airtel Africa and ATC Africa will also partner to provide training around information and communications technology skills to underserved communities as part of their respective kiosks and digital communities programs.

Under this partnership, it is expected that more than 200 digital communities will be deployed in these markets in the coming years, the companies said.

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*Top image source: jbdodane on Flickr CC 2.0.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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