In line with our Engage 2025 plan and our "Net Zero Carbon" target by 2040, Orange Middle East and Africa is setting the pace by being the leading company in terms of the number of solar panels deployed in several countries in the region. Update and overview of future challenges with Alioune Ndiaye, the CEO of Orange Africa and Middle East.
What initiatives are you putting in place to reduce your energy consumption in the Africa and Middle East region?
Alioune Ndiaye : We are particularly sensitive about energy for two reasons. The first is that energy remains scarce and expensive in our countries. The second is that we are at the forefront of suffering the consequences of global warming.
It is to meet these challenges that we have begun many actions: modernizing our data centers, optimizing our radio equipment or accelerating our solar projects, for example.
We have a renewable energy production program that is being rolled out in the 18 countries where we operate. In the region, many sites are not connected to the electricity grid, and when they are, the quality of the grid requires alternative back-up solutions such as, for example, generators consuming fuel, which is a highly polluting solution. To avoid using fossil fuels, we equip our telecoms sites with photovoltaic solar panels.
How many sites have solar panels, what types of panels are used, and how are they installed?
A.N : Today, 5,400 telecoms sites are equipped with solar panels. We prefer to roll out solar farms to supply sites connected to the national electricity grid when the regulations allow it, of course. Otherwise, we look on a case-by-case basis and assess whether it is possible to deploy these panels. They are placed at the foot of the telecom towers, when there is sufficient space on the ground, or directly attached to the pylon or to roof terraces when the structure of the building allows it.
How does this initiative contribute to achieving the Group’s “net zero carbon” ambition by 2040? And which countries are the furthest ahead in achieving this goal?
A.N : We have set ourselves a two-stage target, which is part of our Engage 2025 plan: Meet 50% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025, and reach net zero carbon by 2040. And we are on track to succeed in this challenge!
The solar power supply to our sites saves up to 55 million liters of fuel per year, and is already helping to significantly reduce our environmental footprint. We are proud to be ahead in achieving our goal in Jordan, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Madagascar and Liberia. These countries have a renewable energy rate that is already higher than or close to 50%.