The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has called on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), to transit from fossil fuel to renewable energy to reduce costs of telecom services.
The Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said on Wednesday at the 2023 World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) in Abuja, that doing so would also help to fight climate change.
The WCRD is with the theme: “Empowering Consumers Through Clean Energy Transitions”.
Danbatta, represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders’ Management, Adeleke Adewolu, said that a transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy would greatly reduce the impact climate change had caused to the environment.
He said: “To minimise the environmental impacts of climate change caused by carbon emissions, telecom network providers need to come up with a modern and more energy-efficient network.
“This includes the use of Solar-powered Cells, wireless electricity or a hybrid system to replace higher energy-consuming equipment that will lead to a reduction in capital expenditure (CAPEX).
“Operational expenditure (OPEX) and by implication, a reduction in service costs to consumers.
“Transitioning to renewable energy is predicted to result in a lower cost of operation as operators will be able to save the cost of diesel, which accounts for a large chunk of the costs incurred by these licensees.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on MNOs and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to come up with innovations in sustainable energy in line with the International.”
The EVC said that the competition that the commission consistently promoted among industry players had a natural consequence of the savings on the cost of diesel passed on to consumers.
Danbatta further said that it would potentially result in lower prices for services.
According to him, the NCC is working on a clean energy policy that will benefit both the MNOs, consumers and the environment.
Danbatta said: “Telecommunications Union (ITU) Recommendation ITU-T L.1380 on smart energy solutions for telecom sites’ performance, safety, energy efficiency and environmental impact.
“This is vital to address the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation.
“In this regard and for the industry stakeholders, especially consumers, to benefit from the advantages of renewable energy, the Commission is working on a policy to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources by operators.”
He said, when operational, the policy would ensure that using clean energy sources for power has the potential to resolve the three key needs of the telecom industry.
The key needs include: reduction in diesel usage; expansion of telecom infrastructure to off-grid areas and reduction in carbon emissions
Danbatta added: “Some of these energy-efficiency measures include the redesign of the Radio Access Networks (RAN) of Base Stations which were initially built to maximise connectivity, not energy efficiency.
“More than 75 per cent of the time, the radio base station resources remain unused because of the hardware components activated at all times to transmit system information and synchronisation and reference signals.”
He said the commission, as a responsive world-class organisation, has been proactive in responding to the realities and challenges posed by the impact of using fossil fuel as a power source in the telecommunications industry.
The EVC said: “In this regard, the situation in Nigeria is peculiar.
“Owing to the overall energy challenges of the nation, the fifty-four thousand Base Transceiver Station (BTS) scattered across the country depend on diesel generators with the attendant noise and environmental pollution.
”Some of these BTS operate on diesel generators for 24 hours across seven days of the week in some locations.
“Therefore, transitioning to a renewable energy source like solar power will significantly reduce the menace of pollution from individually-powered generators.” The EVC said.
The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders’ Management, Mr Adeleke Adewolu, explained that the theme would examine unintended side effects of critical social infrastructure in the environment.
Adewolu, represented by Mr Ayanbanji Ojo, Head of Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, said the Nigerian telecoms industry now boasts of over 226 million voice customers and over 156 million internet customers as at January 31, 2023.
He said: “This theme allows us to carefully examine the unintended side-effects of our critical social infrastructure on our environment.
“The Nigerian telecoms industry today boasts of over 226 million voice customers and over 156million internet customers as at 31 January, 2023.
“These consumers leverage on communications infrastructure for social interaction, health service, access to education, banking, etc.”
Adewoul called on network operators to roll-out more infrastructure for coverage in new, mostly rural areas, and for network expansion in already saturated urban markets.
“Emerging technologies like 5th Generation (5G) mobile services will also require more infrastructure.
“These infrastructure components are mostly powered by fossil fuels to ensure 100 per cent availability,” he said.
BRANDPOWER reports that NCC had launched a Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution and Enquiries (TELCARE) Desk in the Arrival Lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja to help solve telecom issues.l lounge.
The TELCARE Desk in Abuja will be a pilot as NCC plans to set up the desk at strategic locations across the country to provide information to telecom consumers.