Stock Image: In March 13, 2017 photo, a cell tower is seen through trees in North Andover, Mass. Insurance companies are using cellphone tower data to deny claims for stolen cars, burned homes and other mishaps, despite the information coming under question at criminal trials across the country. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Stock Image: In March 13, 2017 photo, a cell tower is seen through trees in North Andover, Mass. Insurance companies are using cellphone tower data to deny claims for stolen cars, burned homes and other mishaps, despite the information coming under question at criminal trials across the country. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
File image: IOL
File image: IOL
MTN has applied for rezoning for a cell mast and base station which have already been built in the Strawberry Lane community.  Stock Image.
MTN has applied for rezoning for a cell mast and base station which have already been built in the Strawberry Lane community. Stock Image.

MAURITIUS - Bloomberg reports that renewable energy and economic-friendly power provider company, GreenWish Partners is planning to invest $800 million on solar-powered telecommunications towers across Africa.

According to the International Energy Agency, Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest rates of energy across the world and homes half of the 1.2bn people in the world who do not have reliable electricity. 

“We reduce the total cost of power by 30%", said founder and CEO of GreenWish, Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian. “Smaller towers can run entirely on solar and battery and larger ones reduce their diesel use by at least 60%". 

Bloomberg notes that Africa has more than 240 000 telecom towers that conveys signals to and fro mobile phones. However, most of these towers are powered by diesel generators as they are mainly attached to unreliable grids or in remote areas. 

Leapfrogging

Africa's traditional telecom industry has "leapfrogged" or rapidly grown in recent years. Bloomberg observes that GreenWish has partnered with Orange SA and will begin with 250 towers in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year. The renewable energy company is aiming to reach 3,000 towers across several countries by 2018 and 10,000 by 2020, said Aubin-Kalaidjian. 

Positive Impact

“I didn’t want to belong to an investment bank anymore, I wanted to create my own business mandate and finance only real assets. Projects with a positive impact, socially and environmentally", said Aubin-Kalaidjian

GreenWish has built a 27-megawatt solar plant in Senegal. The company has earmarked further plans to install another 350 megawatts in West Africa. Aubin-Kalaidjian is believed to also be in discussions with other telecommunication companies in Africa. “Our partnership with Orange is a client-supplier relationship, we provide them with energy management services", said Aubin-Kalaidjian. 

“We finance everything ourselves.” GreenWish expects to raise debt from commercial banks and development institutions, namely: Overseas Private Investment Corp, African Development Bank, KfW and FMO of the Netherlands.

Conversely, Cape Town has faced recent adversity to telecom towers. According to Independent Online, residents of Forest Glade in Eerste River were 'up in arms' over the health hazards that the erection of a cellphone tower poses to the community. 

The tower is located on the grounds of the Perm Gardens Baptist Church, Eerste River, within close proximity to resident's homes. 

WATCH: 

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE