Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kenya - green power for mobile

Safaricom Uses Solar, Wind Energy to Reach Remote Locations

As power costs rise and the progress of connecting rural areas to mobile services remains slow, Kenyan mobile telecom provider Safaricom has set up 100 base stations powered by solar and wind energy at a cost of 250 million Kenya shillings (US$3.8 million).

The base stations are in remote locations such as Lokichoggio, Kapenguria, Kakuma and Lodwar in Northern Kenya, and are meant to increase network coverage and capacity countrywide, said Michael Joseph, Safaricom CEO.

"Electricity at some of these locations is nonexistent, but we overcame this challenge by installing the alternative power sources," said Joseph. "We have invested heavily in these base stations, which run on alternative energy sources, to ensure that every Kenyan can access our services."

After the base stations were set up, Safaricom had to increase capacity in some areas because the demand was higher than envisaged and subscriber numbers have increased tremendously, Joseph said.

"We have noted great demand for communication in these remote areas. We find that even before we have installed the sites, the communities have bought phones and airtime as they wait for the base station to be commissioned," he said. "Our aim is to provide voice and data services anywhere in the country. Safaricom will continue to upgrade the network and improve the quality of service."

As part of the rural connectivity program, Safaricom recently completed and commissioned a terrestrial microwave link between Lodwar and the Safaricom network. The link was previously through a satellite system.

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