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MTN Desperately Seeks Generators to Keep its SA Customers Connected

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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MTN South Africa is desperately seeking generators to keep its customers connected amid the country’s deepening power crisis.

“MTN is inviting all businesses that are in possession of generators, to become potential suppliers to MTN. Whether the business has two or 20 generators, MTN is looking to partner,” the company says.

South Africa is currently facing daily rolling blackouts as the country’s energy utility, Eskom, continues to struggle to maintain the electricity grid after decades of mismanagement, corruption and poor planning all the while the cost of living for South Africans, including the price of electricity, continues to increase.

MTN South Africa says it is working “around the clock” to ensure its customers stay connected with an aggressive rollout of batteries, generators and alternate power supplies across its operations.

The telecom is also reaching out to small businesses to build a supply of generators for its operations as load shedding escalates across the country and South Africa’s power crisis deepens.

Charles Molapisi, MTN SA CEO, says MTN’s priority is keeping its customers connected and to this end, the company is exploring practical and innovative solutions to the power crisis.  

“There is no doubt the country is facing a power crisis but at MTN, we want to turn this crisis into an opportunity for small businesses by ‘crowd sourcing’ generators to further support our network,” Molapisi says.  

Michele Gamberini, the Chief Technology and Information Officer at MTN SA says increased load shedding is a challenge for battery recharging.  

“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 80% 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.

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 4 (and higher) load shedding.

MTN is currently using more than 400,000 litres of fuel per month, to keep these generators operational.   

MTN has put power contingencies in place in all provinces. Some of these interventions are: 

  1. 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.   
  2. The deployment of additional emergency generators and optimisation of the existing fleet of MTN mobile generators. 
  3. The withdrawal of field maintenance teams, to allow them to be redeployed to focus on site restorations. 
  4. The delivery of fuel to all critical facilities, to ensure all MTN data centres remain operational. MTN does not anticipate any disruptions to any facilities. 

“To mitigate the risks, we have embarked on several emergency initiatives to ensure higher network resilience, despite the obstacles. We want to assure our customers that we are doing all we can to maintain connectivity during this challenging time,” concludes Gamberini.

Molapisi says that as a company born out of South Africa’s democracy, MTN is tackling the load shedding crisis with a solution-orientated positive mindset, which, he says “…is the hallmark of so many South Africans.”

“We need collective efforts to get us through this crisis and we believe that by partnering with businesses of all sizes and reach, we can both support local businesses while also maintaining our best network for all our customers,” Molapisi says.   

Businesses looking to partner with MTN, in the supply of generators, are invited to contact MTN on

Edited by Luis Monzon
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