South African telco MTN has pledged to invest $101 million in generators, batteries, and renewable energy to combat the issue of rolling blackouts in the country.

The investment will be utilized by the middle of this year, according to the Financial Times.

MTN Group
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MTN fears the issue could impact the carrier for an additional three years.

South Africa has suffered from lengthy outages in the past due to its aging infrastructure, which relies on coal-fired power plants and is more prone to breakdowns.

MTN acknowledges that vandalism has played a part in causing the blackouts. It has also impacted connectivity. Speaking to the FT, Ralph Mupita, chief executive at MTN Group, has described vandalism at cell towers and base stations as a "crisis."

“As we look at our business in South Africa, the key thing is to get beyond the load shedding," he said.

“Our view is that load shedding will be with us for at least another three years, which is why we’ve pre-emptively invested in the resilience of our network.”

The country has regularly had to implement loadshedding measures, with South African power utility Eskom introducing Stage 6 power cuts in the past. Eskom effectively cut 6,000MW from the national grid, meaning six hours without power for South Africans.

“If load shedding improves, then we have the opportunity to actually sell some of the excess power back into the grid. It’s an opportunity that could come out of this crisis,” added Mupita.

Power cuts occurred on 280 days last year, a record in the country. However, the government said it expects this to be over by the end of this year, with the statement coming ahead of elections next month.

The commitment to investing in this infrastructure follows a partnership MTN struck with the Gauteng Provincial Community Police Board to clamp down on network infrastructure theft and vandalism last month.

Rival operators Telkom and Vodacom have also noted issues with vandalism and theft to their respective network infrastructure.