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Econet’s move into green energy, a welcome development for under-powered Africa

Douglas Mboweni

Douglas MboweniWe attended the launch of Econet Energy, a renewable energy initiative by Econet yesterday. Through the initiative Econet is making a move into solar energy in a bid to guarantee always-available power supply to its telecommunications infrastructure and subscribers.

At the event the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO, Douglas Mboweni, delivered a speech in which he explained the reasons behind the strategic positioning in renewable energy by Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications firm:

We have a fleet of more than 600 generators for our base stations and that calls for massive investment but it also means we have to chew up a lot of fuel…it also means we have to invest in the logistics, the people, the trucks to drive around country basically refueling the base stations, and that’s a major challenge…And as we looked at this we said, hang on guys, this cannot be sustained.

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We started looking for a solution from the traditional suppliers of energy and we concluded that it would be unwise to put our investment at the mercy of a third party, whose performance we cannot guarantee.

The CEO revealed that Econet has already started installing ‘green’ base stations. Besides powering the core network infrastructure, Econet will also start distributing solar chargers, lanterns, solar powered mobile handsets, solar panels, and will assist in the ongoing changeover to solar powered traffic lights nationally.

Listening to the Econet CEO, you could see in as far as power is concerned, Econet is responding proactively to the needs of the environment. This is what Zimbabwe and the wider Africa needs; technology touching the lives of ordinary people directly and meaningfully. Anybody reading this in Africa can easily relate to the immediate benefits to come from such an initiative if driven successfully.

The availability of power is central to the development of information communication technologies in any economy. Indeed, a critical issue holding back the adoption of new technologies (and the benefits they accrue) is the lack of both power to support the infrastructure and that to power end user gadgets.

Econet is the second mobile operator to use solar energy to power base stations in Zimbabwe. The state owned mobile operator, NetOne, introduced green base stations in 2009, it too citing insufficient and irregular power supply from the national electricity company, ZESA. With deeper pockets to back the initiative, Econet is set to surpass roll out the green base stations at a faster pace than NetOne.

Below are a few photos we took at the event:

An Econet Solar Lantern
An Econet Solar Lantern
Econet lantern back
The back panel of the lantern charger
Econet CEO, Douglas Mboweni
Econet CEO presents why Econet chose to go into alternative power
Isaiah Nyangari
Isaiah Nyangari, Econet General Manager (Sales & Marketing) speaking at the event


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12 thoughts on “Econet’s move into green energy, a welcome development for under-powered Africa

  1. Hi Soul

    Did you sample the stuff, to give a rating of their perfomance…………so that we dont buy thinks that do not give full value. Or can you follow this up in the near future

  2. and what are the prices for the solar lanterns, I am sure if they work that could help especially in the rural areas. as for solar phones i have never been convinced that these are value for money, they take long to charge and the power never lasts, unless if Econet and whoever they partnered with developed a new handset model, the one I know….DONT EXPECT MUCH

  3. Way to go Econet. Hope our government are not charging you huge amounts as import tax for imports of those solar back-up batteries which they think are not green-energy related!

  4. Impossible to talk to anyone at econet re availability of solar lanterns and why when messages are sms’d it says failed but have gone through, and repeated, are we charged for the repeats
    Customer service does not seem to exist !!!!

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