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COMMUNICATIONS AFRICA: “Rural Communications Finds Its Place in the Sun ” 27 May, 2009

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Solar power could transform rural lives and, with the right business model, it could also pay for itself quickly and make money for operators; Anil Raj, Board Member of telecom equipment maker VNL, tells us why this idea is eminently feasible.

“THE DIESEL GENERATOR is normally a very reliable piece of equipment which will give you many years of service – if it is operated and maintained with an attitude of religious devotion. You have to change the air filter regularly. You have to be careful about the quality of the fuel that you use. You have to change your fuel filters regularly. Every 100 hours you have to basically disassemble your fuel injection pump. If you do this you will be rewarded with long financial life and reliable duty. Now of course this doesn’t happen, and what you have is equipment which is sub-optimal, which consumes a lot of power and which will be a heap of rusting scrap very soon at a huge cost to the operator.”

So if Anil Raj, Board Member of telecom equipment maker VNL, is right, and you’re looking for a base station to connect your village to a mobile network, powering it with diesel may be economically unfeasible. But for rural dwellers, in areas where supply from the grid is unreliable at best, what alternative is there?

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