Tech

Vodacom has spent R1.7 billion on batteries in the past two years

Business Insider SA
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub is not happy. (Pic: Gallo Images)
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub is not happy. (Pic: Gallo Images)
  • Vodacom has spent R1.7 billion in the past two years.
  • This move was a response to the energy crisis.
  • Though this investment has paid off, battery theft has become an issue.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub has had enough of load shedding.

In transcripts from a conference call on the group's results for the year to end March 2022, he said the mobile operator over the last two years had spent R1.7 billion on batteries.

Joosub hinted that this was money that could have been invested elsewhere in his business.

“I think it’s deeply frustrating to be honest with you because we’re having to spend capex [capital expenditure] on things that we wouldn’t have had to spend capex on before.”

Though Joosub may not have liked spending on these batteries, he was, however, happy that this investment kept his customers connected to the world.

“Now, the positive about it is when the power goes off, people need data. So, then they basically go to their phones, so you do see an uplift in data utilisation during these times.”

Despite this investment paying off, deploying so many batteries has come with a downside.

“That said, you land up with situations where you’re now having to deploy a lot of batteries. Batteries are getting stolen.”

South Africa's largest cellular provider, by network coverage, had earlier reported that it was losing 200 batteries every month.

This theft in turn led to Vodacom to deploy armed response units to its tower sites, said Joosub.

“We’ve now made the call to do it because we’ve seen very positive impacts and a business case where it is positive in terms of paying for security versus theft.”

Vodacom is not alone in having to come up with a plan in dealing with frequent power cuts and accompanying battery theft. Rivals Telkom noted these issues in its 2021 annual report, and MTN said in its latest annual results that it was rolling out a “comprehensive resilience plan” to deal with the outages.

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