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Tower operators mull N7.2bn investment in solar systems

As public power supply for telecommunications services providers in the country continues to slip from bad to worse, tower operators are considering opting for massive investment of about N7.2billion on solar systems.

The tower operators are worried by high cost of maintenance of generators at base stations in the country which have since become main source of power supply for telecommunications services providers in the country.

The operators have set aside some 20,000 towers out of 26,000 operational for the upgrade; Daily Times gathered which will witness installation of solar panel and batteries at each of the towers at the cost of N360, 000 per tower.

Installation of the solar panel, it was gathered cost between N200, 000 to N350, 000 depending on the capacity of the tower as some tower houses more base stations than others, while the batteries, other accessories cost N70,000 and the solar panel unit for each tower cost between N40,000 and N50,000.

Investigation revealed that the cost incurred in the maintenance of telecommunications towers in the country had risen to $104 million from $80 million every month in the past one year due to  increase in the cost of diesel, generator parts and generators which has been affected by foreign exchange saga.

Meanwhile 95 percent of the towers in the country are said to be under the management of tower operators with the adoption of co-location model by telecom operators and sale of towers to tower operators by GSM operators among others.

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said: “Power is a challenge for tower operators as cost of diesel is high; today you buy N180 per litre. These costs are not insignificant and affect the business.”

Engr. Lanre Ajayi, immediate past president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), also acknowledged two factors as accountable for high cost of managing towers in the country, which are competition and service cost.

He hinted that the high cost of tower management is occasioned by service cost provided at the towers such as power and security.

“Most towers are powered by generators and the cost of gas is high, they provide security at the towers. These are outside the control of co-location operators,” he added.

 

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