Africa’s Mobile Networks Drive Renewable Energy Growth

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

Written by Michael Malakata | From Computerworld Zambia  via TechAdvisor

Renewable energy technologies are getting a boost in Africa, driven by the need to power base stations for mobile phone operators in rural areas that are unconnected to national power grids.

Several western companies are introducing technologies to help mobile phone operators and the financial sector power data centers and networks. They are also selling low-cost solar mobile chargers, enabling subscribers to charge their phones in addition to lighting their homes.

France’s Schneider Electric, the U.K.’s SunnyMoney and the U.S.-based World Panel are among the companies that are battling to outdo each other in rolling out solar technologies to power mobile phone base stations and data centers.

Schneider Electric said it plans to create access to renewable energy for 20,000 Africans by the end of this year to enable them to charge their phones and have continued access to mobile communications. It has also developed renewable energy solutions for mobile network operators that could help them power their base stations and extend services in rural areas.

Schneider’s Villasol and VillaSmart photovoltaic panel systems, which are representative of the offerings from the other companies as well, are able to generate up to 24 kilowatts of power per day, enough to run a base station, or electrify a health center or school. The prices differ widely from one country to another depending on distribution agreements, but prices range from $2000 to $5000.

When fully charged, Schneider’s Mobiya solar lamp and phone charger can provide light for 48 hours But when used simultaneously for lighting and charging mobile phones, it can run from six to 12 hours. The price ranges from $40 to $50.

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