The Plan to Turn Africa’s Mobile Phone Towers Green
8 September 2017
GreenWish Partners, a renewable energy company run by a former Morgan Stanley executive, is planning to invest $800 million on solar-powered telecommunications towers across Africa.
The project could fuel economic growth by providing power for essential services. Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest rates of energy access in the world and is home to about half of the world’s 1.2 billion people without reliable electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. The problem extends to businesses as well as households, cutting into productivity and growth.
“We reduce the total cost of power by 30 percent,” said Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian, the founder and chief executive officer of GreenWish, who was formerly a managing director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. “Smaller towers can run entirely on solar and battery and larger ones reduce their diesel use by at least 60 percent.”
Africa has more than 240,000 telecom towers, which convey signals to and from mobile phones. Most of them are powered by diesel generators because they’re often attached to unreliable grids or in remote areas without power network access. The hybrid systems developed by GreenWish combine a solar panel, a battery and a diesel generator to provide complete off-grid reliability.