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Telecoms operators decry erratic power supply, equipment theft

Some stakeholders in the telecommunications industry on Thursday said that inconsistent power supply and theft of equipment were making the telecommunications business less profitable.

They made this known during a panel discussion at the Nigeria Com Conference 2019 held in Lekki, Lagos.

The event had as its theme “Overcoming Power, Accessibility and Infrastructure Challenges’’.

According to the operators, security lax, regular theft of batteries and other equipment are discouraging investments in the industry.

The operators said that 60 per cent of their operating cost was on generating electricity to power base stations.

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

Adeola noted that in other countries, operators relied solely on electricity from the national grid.

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.”

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, 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.

Adebayo said: “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 us 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.”

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

Abu said that the cost of fuelling generators was driving up the cost of doing business and making the business less profitable.

He said: “We 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.

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

Credit: The Eagle Online

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