05 April 2023
MTN will invest R1.5 billion in South Africa to help mitigate ongoing power blackouts in the country and plans to get its base stations completely off grid in the future.
The nationwide program is aimed at warding off the negative impact and frustration caused by power cuts, theft, and vandalism, and will help enhance MTN's network availability and stability over the long term.
"The investment will see us installing solar power, batteries, and generators, and enhancing security features at base stations to ensure improved network availability during load shedding, when many instances of theft and vandalism occur. In future, we expect to be completely off the grid at most sites so that these problems do not affect the quality of our service," said MTN SA CEO Charles Molapisi. "We are currently engaged with a number of critical role-players for collaborative solutions on matters related to the potential of any extended outages. Our focus is on our people and customers, fuel supply, fuel movements, security resourcing and sustaining national and emergency services.”
MTN’s network availability plan resulted in the upgrade of 3,253 sites by the end of February 2023, and the company plans to upgrade all current sites by the end of May 2023 "to enable significant improvement to network availability in the second half of the year."
The blackouts are part of deliberate power cuts by state-owned power utility Eskom to prevent the failure of the entire electricity grid, with not enough power being made at national power stations to light up the whole country 100% of the time.