Telecom operators bemoan erratic power supply, equipment theft

Telecom operators

Telecom conference

TELECOM operators have lamented how inconsistent power supply and theft of equipment were making their business less profitable.

At a panel discussion Thursday at the Nigeria Com Conference 2019 held in Lekki, Lagos, the operators noted lax security, regular theft of heavy duty batteries and other equipment were discouraging investments in the industry.

The operators, at the event, themed “Overcoming Power, Accessibility and Infrastructure Challenges,” said that 60 per cent of their operating cost went to generating electricity to power base stations.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN),  the Nigeria Com Conference explores how network infrastructure are looking, to connect all Nigeria’s citizens and how new technologies are impacting lives and business across the country through a series of discussions.

Vice President, Network Operations, Airtel Nigeria, Dr Adedoyin Adeola, noted that power supply was being sabotaged by different people who were benefiting from alternative forms of energy.

According to him, network operators in Nigeria and few other African countries are the only ones who introduced two power generating sets into their business case.

Vice President, Network Operations, Airtel Nigeria, Dr Adedoyin Adeola

He said: “In Nigerian telecoms, we consume almost 40 million litres of fuel per month to power telecoms towers.

“It is only in Nigeria and a few other countries that we factor having two power generators in our business case,” he said.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, noted that though operators had introduced different kinds of innovation to solve the problem of power supply, theft of batteries and solar panels remained a challenge.

Said Adebayo: “We have considered other sources of energy. We installed solar power panels in some locations. Those sites have been vandalised and the cells are taken to the local community and used to play table tennis.

“The local government and state authorities are asking telecom operators to pay for generator emission test. So, we ask them if the ones we use on our sites are not also used in homes and offices.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Towers, Mr Wole Abu, said that power contributed to 50 per cent of capital expenditure and 60 per cent of the operating costs of infrastructure companies.

Decrying the cost of fuelling generators, which was driving up the cost of doing business and making the business less profitable, he said that, “telecom operators are not going to wait for the grid. We are rolling out designs that are completely off-grid. Power from the grid is erratic and it burns our equipment.”

He, however, said that operators had started investing in energy-efficient equipment to reduce fuel consumption.


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