Telecommunications companies in Nigeria currently spend an estimated N730 billion on diesel to power their base stations scattered across the country, industry experts have said. With the dwindling amount of public electricity available to individuals and organisations, especially telecoms companies, whose operations largely rely on constant power supply, operators have continued to make huge investments in powering generators to ensure a roundthe- clock functioning of their telecoms facilities.

In Nigeria, most of the base stations are powered by high operational expenditure (Opex) diesel generators, with at least one, and often two, diesel generators providing power to a site. Till date, telecoms services operators, Internet service providers (ISPs) as well as other wholesale Internet capacity companies in the sector have over 31,000 base stations across the nooks and crannies of the country, according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Telcos as largest diesel consumers

According to the National Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, the Global System for Mobile communications companies, Long Term Evolution (LTE) operators and Internet Service Providers remain the largest consumers of diesel in the country.

He said as of 2014, the firms were spending an estimated N175 million daily or N45 billion monthly on diesel for powering their BTS nationwide, amounting to N540 billion at the end of the year. Adebayo said, “This figure is bound to have risen by about 35 per cent in the year ended December 31, 2015, going by the expansion of base stations across the country and the fluctuation in the price of diesel, as well as the worsening power situation in the country.

“Operators in the sector have always relied on generators in an industry that does not tolerate recurrent downtimes, and the decision by the telefossil fuels, notably coal, oil and gas, continue to provide a significant quantity of energy, renewables need to play a greater role in telecoms and other sectors of the economy.

“Solar and wind are especially promising, thanks to falling costs and resource abundance. From solar-powered hospitals in Lagos to wind farms in Lake Turkana, renewable energy is not just a pipe dream – it is a reality.

“Renewables can increase energy security, reduce energy import bills, diversify and de-risk the energy mix. Through off-grid technologies, they can provide direct, affordable power to rural regions beyond the reach of the grid system,” the report said.

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