by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – MTN South Africa reports it has achieved milestones since the announcement of a R4,5 billion (US$234 million) to R5 billion investment to tackle load shedding.
This includes the deployment of more than 20 000 batteries, 5 000 rectifiers and nearly 900 generators to sites across the country.
This has been achieved amid the ongoing load shedding crisis exacerbating theft and vandalism issues.
According to MTN, in May of this year, South Africans experienced 29 days of Stage 5 and 6 load shedding, whereas in 2022 load shedding never increased beyond Stage 3 in the same period.
MTN SA Chief Executive Officer, Charles Molapisi, said while there was a brief respite in the second quarter of 2023 with a reduction in load shedding compared to the first quarter, power outages continued to pose a significant challenge to operations.
“During the first half of 2022, there were 68 days with load shedding, but this figure nearly tripled to 181 days in that same period this year.”
Molapisi said load shedding heightens the vulnerability of cellphone towers to acts of vandalism as criminals often exploit the cover of darkness during these outages to target network sites.
The equipment installed at these cellphone towers, including copper cables, batteries, air conditioners, and generators are highly coveted by criminals, who inflict significant damage on network infrastructure, leading to tower malfunctions and disruptions.
“While we are doing well on all fronts in shoring up our network resilience during periods of load shedding, and particularly during the higher stages, the criminal activity continues to inflict deteriorated network experiences on our valued customers,” Molapisi said.
In August, MTN had completed in the region of 2 000 site enhancements, surpassing set targets. With new site enhancements coming on board almost daily, to date, more than 5 000 sites have been upgraded.
As a result of this ongoing investment, the telecommunications company reported a 15 percent improvement of network availability.
One of the key initiatives contributing to the improvement in MTN’s network availability has been rolling out a comprehensive national resilience programme in key regions, including Johannesburg, the Western Cape, Tshwane, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Central region.
– CAJ News