Telecommunications group MTN South Africa (SA) is exploring practical and innovative solutions to the power crisis and seeking out partners with generators as it works to maintain customer connectivity during escalating load-shedding across South Africa.
Along with an aggressive rollout of batteries, generators and alternate power supplies, MTN is reaching out to small businesses to supply generators for its operations.
“There is no doubt the country is facing a power crisis but at MTN, we want to turn this crisis into an opportunity for small businesses by ‘crowd sourcing’ generators to further support our network,” said MTN SA CEO Charles Molapisi.
To this end, MTN is inviting all businesses with generators to become potential suppliers to MTN.
Despite having placed thousands of batteries at MTN sites across the country, the efficacy of those batteries greatly reduces once Stage 4 or higher load-shedding is reached, with increased frequency and duration of electricity outages a challenge for battery recharging, said MTN SA chief technology and information officer Michele Gamberini.
“MTN has upgraded its battery back-up solutions on over 80% of the sites already this year and is currently deploying more additional batteries. However, MTN is still faced with the challenge that the current outage schedule does not allow enough time for batteries to charge,” he explained, pointing out that battery back-up systems generally take 12 to 18 hours to recharge, while batteries have a capacity of about 6 to 12 hours, depending on the site category.
MTN has also deployed over 2 000 generators to counter the impact of the higher stage load-shedding and is using more than 400 000 litres of fuel a month to keep these generators operational.
“To mitigate the risks, we have embarked on several emergency initiatives to ensure higher network resilience, despite the obstacles. We want to assure our customers that we are doing all we can to maintain connectivity during this challenging time,” Gamberini said.
MTN developed power contingencies in all provinces including the establishment of war rooms for each region with dedicated staff and network partners focused on restoring major transmission infrastructure and base stations in the face of severe load-shedding.
Other contingencies in place include the deployment of additional emergency generators and an optimisation of the existing fleet of MTN mobile generators; the withdrawal of field maintenance teams to allow them to be redeployed to focus on site restorations; and the delivery of fuel to all critical facilities to ensure all MTN data centres remain operational.
“We need collective efforts to get us through this crisis and we believe that by partnering with businesses of all sizes and reach, we can both support local businesses while also maintaining our best network for all our customers,” Molapisi concluded.