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MTN SA goes aggressive as load shedding batters batteries

By , ITWeb
South Africa , 20 Sep 2022

MTN South Africa says it is exploring “practical and innovative solutions” as the country experiences higher- and more frequent load shedding.

The company has released a statement in which it highlights the impact of load shedding on battery charging and its plan to aggressively roll out batteries, generators and alternate power supplies.

Michele Gamberini, Chief Technology and Information Officer at MTN SA, says, “Despite us having placed thousands of batteries at our sites across the country, the efficacy of those batteries greatly reduces once we pass stage 4 load shedding.”

Gamberini says MTN has upgraded its battery back-up solutions on over 70% of the sites already this year and is currently deploying more additional batteries. However, MTN is still faced with the challenge that the current outage schedule does not allow enough time for batteries to charge.

The company says battery back-up systems generally take 12-18 hours to recharge, while batteries have a capacity of about 6-12 hours, depending on the site category.

“Consistent outages therefore have a direct impact on the performance of the batteries, while consistent theft of the batteries themselves means replacements need to be installed,” Gamberini says.

In addition to the battery rollout, MTN has also deployed over 2000 generators to counter the impact of stage four (and higher) load shedding.

MTN says the constant pressure of stage four and five power outages, requires 24 hours monitoring.

The operator has cemented a power contingency plan which it says includes:

The establishment of “war rooms” per region with dedicated staff and network partners, focused on restoring major transmission infrastructure and base stations, in the face of severe load shedding.

The deployment of additional emergency generators and an optimisation of the existing fleet of MTN mobile generators.

The withdrawal of field maintenance teams, to allow them to be redeployed to exclusively focus on site restorations.

The delivery of fuel to all critical facilities, to ensure all MTN datacentres remain operational. MTN does not anticipate any disruptions to any of these facilities.

“To mitigate the risks, we have embarked on several emergency initiatives to ensure higher network resilience, despite the obstacles,” the operator adds. 

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