Vodacom South Africa says it has spent ZAR 1 billion on batteries over the last six months to ensure its network stayed up during load-shedding, MyBroadband reported. Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the power outages this year forced the operator to increase its back-up power investment.
South Africa suffered the worst ever load-shedding in 2020, with total gigawatt-hours shed surpassing the 2019 record in August. In September, the cumulative load-shedding for 2020 was already 23 percent worse than the whole of 2019.
To create a robust mobile network, Vodacom directed 20 percent of its ZAR 5 billion capital expenditure over the last six months towards back-up power. To buy and install new batteries at mobile sites is only part of the challenge as criminals are wrecking mobile networks to get their hands on the batteries, which are then sold on the black market. Joosub said Vodacom is losing around ZAR 150 million per year because of battery theft, which is an ongoing battle.