During the 2011 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Swedish telecom site solution supplier Flexenclosure were awarded the prestigious Global Mobile Award by the GSMA for the Community Power project in the "Best use of Mobile for Social & Economic Development" category.
Lars Linden, Head of Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa, says: "We are honored to have been presented with this award. This initiative reflects Ericsson's ongoing commitment to harnessing our technical leadership in developing innovative products and sustainable business models that form the building blocks of a connected and sustainable Africa. We will continue to seek new ways of driving sustainable business growth for our customers and expand the reach of networks in Africa."
Having adopted the Ericsson Community Power solution, MTN in Liberia becomes the first operator in the world to implement a system of this type. With this, many of the residents of Liberia's Kokoyah District could soon enjoy access to electricity in their homes for the first time.
This will take what has started in some markets as a way of charging mobile phones to a whole new level, enabling the electrification of the world's remotest villages.
Kokoyah is one of several Millennium Villages in Africa. It is located in the far south-east of Bong County, which has a population of approximately 15,000 people.
The Ericsson Community Power solution was developed in partnership with Swedish green site solution specialist company Flexenclosure as part of a portfolio of innovative services and products for the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). Comprising Ericsson Community Power and Flexenclosure's E-site solution, this is a revolutionary product that combines an off-grid base-station site powered mainly by renewable energy sources such as sun and wind, with the ability to share excess power with surrounding local communities, institutions and individuals.
The Community Power solution allows subscribers to recharge their mobile phones with excess power generated from the station, which in turn drives network usage and thereby revenue. In more mature and large-scale deployments, several sites can be combined to create a mini-grid to power services such as streetlights, clinics and schools for an entire community. It would even be possible to feed power from the base station into the national power grid which can help to alleviate power shortages.
In Africa, much basic infrastructure is lacking, and there are more people with mobile phones than access to electricity. According to the International Energy Agency, 585 million people had no access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa in 2010. Yet mobile-phone penetration levels in Africa are at about 50 percent.
Frans Joubert, CEO of MTN Liberia, says: "In emerging markets this solution allows operators to bring much needed services to the community in a sustainable way, and offers additional value to the customer, the operator and the community at large. Beyond meeting the basic electricity requirements of the community, this solution can serve utility companies worldwide, and MTN is proud to be part of this initiative, which can change so many lives."
The solution has been trialed in the Dertu Millennium Village, a remote settlement in north- eastern Kenya. There, one site generated about 4,000kWh in excess energy a year, theoretically the amount of energy needed to generate power to support mobile phone charging stations, illuminate street lights and supply power to community buildings such as clinics and schools in a small village. In Dertu, the base station powered a fridge that stored medicine for the local community.
"Ericsson Community Power offers us groundbreaking opportunities to transform the lives of individuals, businesses and communities that have traditionally been excluded from numerous services due to their lack of access to power. Now, they have been given the platform to enjoy products and services that were previously impossible to access, and also to expand their commerce and trade beyond their immediate environment," concludes Lars Linden.
Notes to editors:
More information on the Millennium Village Project
More information about the Earth Institute
More information about the Millennium Promise
More information about the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
More information of the Kokoyah Millennium Village
More information about the United Nations Development Programmes in Liberia
More information on Flexenclosure
More information on MTN
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Ericsson is the world's leading provider of technology and services to telecom operators. Ericsson is the leader in 2G, 3G and 4G mobile technologies, and provides support for networks with over 2 billion subscribers and has the leading position in managed services. The company's portfolio comprises mobile and fixed network infrastructure, telecom services, software, broadband and multimedia solutions for operators, enterprises and the media industry. The Sony Ericsson and ST-Ericsson joint ventures provide consumers with feature-rich personal mobile devices.
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