The cost of diesel used for powering telecom towers is estimated at N8.8bn, analysis of industry figures has shown.
Stakeholders in the telecom industry, while speaking at the Nigeria Com conference in Lagos on Wednesday said mobile network operators were buying an average of 40 million litres of diesel per month to power telecom sites.
With the average of cost of diesel in Nigeria at N220 per litre, this amounts to N8.8bn every month.
The Vice President, Network Operations, Airtel Nigeria, Dr Adedoyin Adeola, noted power supply was being sabotaged by different people who were benefiting from alternative forms of energy.
According to him, network operators in Nigerian and few other African countries are the only ones who introduce two power generating sets into their business case.
Adeola noted that in other climes, operators relied solely on electricity from the national grid.
“In Nigerian telecoms, we consume almost 40 million litres per month to power telecoms towers. In the telecoms industry today, it is only in Nigeria and a few other countries that will factor in two power generators in their business case.
“One will work for 12 hours and the other for another 12 hours. The reverse is the case in other countries where the cost of generator is zero while public electricity supply is fixed at 100 per cent.”
He said due to the unreliable power supply from the grid, telecoms operators had devised various means of ensuring consistent power supply to masts and towers across the country.
Adeola said, “Power is that baseline for every telecom industry and every economy. It has been proven that there is a strong correlation between the availability of power and the Gross Domestic Product growth of any country.
“Innovative approaches have been used to tackle power challenges by successive governments but there is no motivation for some set of people who are key stakeholders to allow power to work in Nigeria.”
The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecom 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.
“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.”
On his part, the Chief Executive officer, Pan African Towers, Mr Wole Abu, noted that power contributed up to 50 per cent of capital expenditure and 60 per cent of the operating costs of infrastructure companies.
Source: The Punch