Solar Hybrid Power Systems Target African Telecom Market

March 20, 2017 by Jeff Shepard

Polar Power, Inc. has entered the African prime power system market and established a regional presence in Cape Town, South Africa with the new appointment of Andre Herbst to Director of Telecom Sales and Business Development Africa. In conjunction with Herbst's appointment, the Company plans to expand operations in Africa and establish regional sales and service hubs in the region utilizing Polar Power's dc solar hybrid power systems to address the expanding and under-penetrated telecommunications market.

The African telecom market has been rapidly expanding as subscribers increase throughout the continent due to telecom infrastructure improvements and declining prices in mobile phones. African countries dominate the ranking of the 25 poorest countries in the world, according to an analysis by Global Finance Magazine in 2016. According to the 2016 GSMA Mobile Economy Africa Report, the global subscriber penetration rate now stands at 63%, with regional penetration rates ranging from 43% in Sub-Saharan Africa to 85% in Europe.

Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's most under-penetrated region saw an annual subscriber growth from 2010-2015 of more than 13% versus 3% in North America over the same period. Regional variations in data usage are significant, with the majority of data usage coming from North America and Europe, where subscribers on average today consume 4.4 GB and 1.8 GB per month respectively, compared to around 0.5 GB per subscriber across Africa. Mobile internet adoption in Africa continues to grow rapidly; the number of mobile internet subscribers tripled in the last five years to 300 million by the end of 2015, with an additional 250 million expected by 2020.

The mobile telecom tower market in Africa faces infrastructure and operational challenges due to the lack of a stable grid in urban and rural areas, resulting in reliance on expensive diesel used to power network infrastructures. According to 2016 GSMA analysis there currently are 240,000 telecom towers providing mobile coverage to the continent with expected growth to 325,000 by 2020. A majority of these towers are located in rural and suburban areas challenged by unreliable or lack of electrical grid.

Polar Power plans to expand its business throughout the African continent, initially focusing on countries like South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria.

"We believe the current challenges of a limited power grid and availability of year-long solar resources present a unique opportunity for our dc solar hybrid products to power expanding telecommunications tower infrastructure," said Polar Power CEO, Arthur Sams. "The higher efficiency of our dc products combined with our proprietary integration of solar and lithium ion batteries can reduce operating costs, a key cost driver in operations of telecom towers in off-grid and bad-grid applications."

"To support our strategic initiatives we are pleased to have Mr. Herbst lead the effort, who has over 20 years' experience in the African region managing telecommunications infrastructure. Mr. Herbst has held senior management positions for leading telecom companies including: MTN Iran, Eltek Valere Dubai, Huawei Nigeria, Millicom Pakistan, Ericsson Cameroon and most recently focusing on hybrid power systems at Camusat," continued Sams.

"Polar Power is meeting the industry needs with higher energy efficiency and lower emissions power generating equipment. We are pleased to welcome Andre to our team, who shares our values and our focus on expanding sales of our products through innovation and emphasis on customer service. Andre has a proven track record in developing new markets through the introduction of energy efficient disruptive technologies and we look forward to leveraging his expertise in the African region," concluded Sams.