Hon. Danson Mwazo, Tourism Minister of Kenya cutting the ribbon and inaugurating the VNL WorldGSM™ Village Site for Safaricom at Jora Village. Also seen: Ms. Sylvia Mulinge – GM Enterprise Business Unit, Safaricom.
Moving ahead in its ambitious plans to expand network coverage and reach subscribers in remote uncovered locations of Kenya, leading mobile operator Safaricom has deployed VNL’s solar powered WorldGSM™ base stations in Bungule and Jora in Taita Taveta County of Kenya.
The inauguration of the first solar powered VNL Rural site was held on August 17, 2012 at Bungule followed by the inauguration of a VNL Village Site at village Jora close by.
VNL WorldGSM™ Village Site in village Jora, Kenya. Top view (L) and solar panels (R).
The ceremonial ribbon cutting was done by Hon. Danson Mwazo, Tourism Minister of Kenya, who is also the Member of Parliament for the area. A local custom (akin to knighthood) of conferring the status of Taita Elder on the Hon. Minister was attended by hundreds of village folk including over 150 students of the school.
The ribbon cutting was accompanied by a Cultural Show of dance and music and speeches at the Jora Primary School. This school is located in Jora Village about 3kms off the road leading to Tanzania through Tsavo West National Park.
Children from the village school watching the event.
Senior team members from Safaricom were present as the solar powered GSM site was dedicated to the people of Bungule. They included Ms. Sylvia Mulinge - GM Enterprise Business Unit, Mr. Robert Mutai - Network Engineering Head, and Mr.Nick Mruttu – Head of Consumer Sales.
Mr.Mutai, commenting on VNL’s WorldGSM™ solution said that it was the first of its kind solar /battery hybrid powered GSM solution with such a high level of integration in a village site.
Preparing for dance and music for the event.
Located in Kenya’s coastal region nearly 360 kms from the capital Nairobi, Bungule is sparsely populated and not very developed. It falls under Voi constituency of Taita Taveta County, and lies on the edge of the Tsavo National Park. In the past, subscribers of Safaricom in Bungule and Jora had to go quite a distance from their homes –up to the highway in many cases – in search of a signal for their phone. Often they ran into wild animals that posed grave danger to their lives. Faced with these challenges quite a few users became dormant. Now connecting to family, friends and the outside world is convenient - thanks to VNL’s solar powered WorldGSM™ base station that Safaricom chose for this location. Today there are close to 500 active subscribers.
Bungule and Jora have a harsh terrain.
So far VNL has deployed 1 Rural RBTS site (2/2/2 TRX) and 1 Village VBTS (2TRX) in Bungule. Both these sites work independent of the power grid and require no diesel generator backup. These completely solar powered base stations provide GSM services with an autonomy of 3 days. The VNL NOC in Nairobi reports that the VNL VBTS is picking 70-85 Erlang traffic and the overall traffic (RBTS +VBTS) which is around 160-180 Erlang per day. The sites are Broadband ready and in the next phase Safaricom will plan Wi-Fi access in the local area.
Similar sites deployed by VNL elsewhere in Africa have yielded savings of around US $24,000 per site each year.
Rajiv Mehrotra Chairman & CEO VNL said,” VNL is delighted to partner Safaricom and bring the benefits of its Zero Opex WorldGSM™ solution to the network and empower the lives of the people of Bungule.”