Africa’s giant telco Vodacom has installed new solar-powered sites in Polokwane, Vereeniging and Bloemfontein in South Africa. This move is part of the company’s energy and carbon management strategy and commitment to cut back on its environmental impact in half by 2025.
With over R8 million invested in these solar-powered sites in addition to a solar project at a base station controller site in Randburg, Gauteng, in May 2020, Vodacom is demonstrating its commitment to securing alternative energy sources to power its operations where possible.
Collectively, the three new sites will generate approximately 127 MWh of energy on an annual basis, which will help to reduce the telco’s carbon emissions and lower its electricity consumption. The solar panels will also ease the load on the sites’ batteries in the event of load-shedding, ensuring network reliability, quality, and seamless connectivity for customers.
Solar is but one of the innovative ways for Vodacom to go clean
The solar installation finds alignment with Vodacom’s mission to improve the lives of 100 million people; SDGs 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure) and 13 (Climate action); as well as South Africa‘s National Development Plan, which prioritizes eliminating poverty, reducing inequality and growing an inclusive economy by 2030.
Case in point, in 2012, the company installed the largest single rooftop solar at its Century City offices in Cape Town, and Vodacom Lesotho’s head office has been powered by solar energy since 2017.
Also, in 2020, Vodacom conserved a total of 11 971 MWh of electricity through its energy management strategy, which included investing in energy efficiency projects such as IoT capabilities and renewable energy solutions like solar power. This move helped to reduce the company’s total energy cost by R 16 million for that financial year. The latest three solar-powered sites in South Africa form part of the 1 088 solar-powered sites across all of Vodacom’s markets.
According to Takalani Netshitenzhe, Executive Director of External Affairs at Vodacom South Africa, the demand for digital services is growing and more energy is needed to meet the demands. “ In anticipation of this growth, and despite the current economic challenges, we are investing in strategies to decrease our energy consumption while reducing the use of carbon-intensive sources of energy. By reducing our carbon footprint, our aim is to mitigate climate change and its effects on the planet.”
Netshitenzhe believes that solar-powered sites are just one of the innovative ways to introduce cleaner, more sustainable energy sources to keep Vodacom’s mobile networks running and its customers connected in an ever-increasing digital society.
“At Vodacom, we want to ensure that as our business growth transforms society in a manner that will not come at the cost of the planet. We have made progress in our waste and water reduction strategies, however, energy consumption remains our largest environmental impact, requiring significant investment in order to reach the targets that we have set out to achieve.
We are also working with government and other role players to explore ways in which to transition towards a sustainable, equitable, and low carbon future,” said Netshitenzhe.