Telkom has had to cope with significant theft of and damage to its equipment. Group CEO Serame Taukobong said that in the past six months alone at least 1,800 batteries have been stolen from base stations, costing on average about R250,000 each. This equates to R450 million in the six-month period.
Telkom’s efforts to secure the batteries have resulted in criminals vandalising the base stations housing them. Taukobong said the group has enlisted the help of the police and the army to try to safeguard its infrastructure.
Alternative Energy Sources
The group has tried to minimise the impact of power shortages by commissioning a 168kWp solar PV plant for Bellville in April last year and by installing lithium batteries as backup power for diesel generators where possible. Wholesale subsidiary Openserve has deployed smart power backup technology at more than 310 of its sites and hopes to double this in 2024.
Due to accelerated load shedding over the past year, diesel consumption for backup generators increased by a staggering 190%, costing Telkom R503 million during this period.
Other Providers Affected
Telkom is not the only communications provider suffering the effects of South Africa’s high crime rate. MTN South Africa will spend at least R1.5 billion this year to secure its network against both severe load shedding and vandalism.