Airtel Nigeria goes green to power base stations

December 7th, 2011 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Lagos, Dec 7 (IANS) Airtel Nigeria is in the midst of a project to put in place 250 solar energy base stations across the country in the first phase as part of its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by eliminating the use of diesel and petrol to generate power at the base stations, an official said.

The first phase of the project started in November 2010 and would end in February 2012. The second phase would follow soon after that, chief operating officer Deepak Srivastava said here.

Speaking after commissioning a new green site, Srivastava said the company has invested 93 billion nairas ($600 million) in the past year to fund its network expansion to improve its services.

The new solar energy base station is expected to handle about 1,200 subscribers receiving and making calls at the same time. “This would help reduce network congestion,” Srivastava added.

Airtel has also tied up with Ericsson to upgrade 250 diesel powered stations in Nigeria to green sites.

The poor power supplies across the country to the company’s sites, Srivastava said, was “responsible for over 70 percent of downtime, resulting in poor quality of service”.

He said Airtel was in talks with the World Bank as part of several options that it is considering to improve power supplies to some of its base stations in rural areas.

Srivastava said by next March, the company would have erected an additional 1,000 sites.

“Airtel has invested heavily on site rollout, power improvement projects, microwave replacement, technical engineering and network capacity enhancement,” he added.

“We are committed to improving the capacity and robustness of our network because it is equally in our interest as we continue to grow our customer base. Nigerians should rest assured that we will co-operate with the regulator to ensure that the prescribed quality standards are always met and even surpassed,” Srivastava said.

Apart from Nigeria, Airtel is present in Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The company offers mobile voice and data services, fixed line, high speed broadband, IPTV, DTH, turnkey telecom solutions for enterprises and national and international long distance services to carriers.

Airtel has some 50 million subscribers in Africa.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at fkokutse@hotmail.com)

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