The global community celebrated the World Environment Day last week on 5 June.
The theme for the event was pivoted on a green economy, which is described by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) as one that captures the aspects of low carbon emissions, efficient resource utility, and social inclusiveness.
In retrospect, adoption of green technology in the Kenyan ICT sector is notable.
Although the global ICT industry has not yet been blacklisted as a smoke-stack, it is estimated that it contributes to approximately 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Also, there are other environmental impacts with the exponential ubiquitous use of ICT gadgets.
Kenya, like other countries in the globe, is faced with the challenges and opportunities that come with the use of information communication technologies.
As a matter of fact, a number of industry players are adopting green technology for not only environmental concerns, but also to reap from the accruing benefits.
To begin with, the issue of power is critical to the ICT sector and a closer look reveals a trend where some industry players are choosing green energy sources in places not served by the national electricity grid.
Energy for reduced OPEX
Huawei approached Safaricom with a proposal to tackle the issue of diesel generators, which were a common set-up in places without KPLC connections.
Huawei provided an energy solution of base-station site that combines solar and a diesel generator.
The solar energy option is for stable power supply while the generator is for back-up supply.
The first site constructed by Huawei using this green alternative energy helped to reduce fuel consumption and gas emissions substantially.
Phone firms like Safaricom are tapping into the potential of green energy to stem transmission base station OPEX (operational expenditure) costs in regions not covered by the national power grid.
Safaricom has a total of 2,690 mobile base-stations spread all over the country.
The company is adopting green energy as it looks forward to reducing the current number of 155 base-stations that run on diesel generators throughout.
Green energy has helped Safaricom to decrease the costs of fuelling and maintaining diesel generators. Now Safaricom has 110 base-stations that run on green energy.
The company has deployed a diverse set-up using both hybrid and single green power sources.
Use of green energy gives the company an added advantage of expanding its network in places that are not supplied with electricity.
Safaricom is not alone in this quest for green energy. Orange Kenya, Essar Yu, and Bharti Airtel are also adopting green energy sources in their networks.
Despite the extra cost of setting up green energy powered stations, the benefits from the operational and environmental view are clear in the long run.
Mobile phone companies realise the need to expand their networks and deliver their services to a wider population.
To these firms, supplementary green energy sources spell benefits in places where feasibility studies point to substantial ARPU and reasonable revenue.
From a continental perspective, several operators in Africa have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions, especially in regard to powering of base-stations.
By 2020, Vodafone group, MTN, and Orange look forward to reducing their carbon emissions by 50 per cent, 20 per cent, and 50 per cent respectively.
The move to green technologies is also visible in some service provision models. Safaricom is tinkering with a model to reduce the millions of paper scratch card that are used for credit top-ups.
Orange is already on track with its credit top-up system called e-jaze.
The e-jaze system helps users to top-up any amount of credit on their devices in a smooth flexible style.
The system cuts down on the volumes of paper and other costs associated with scratch cards.
On a broader perspective, ICT companies in other parts of the world have programmes and initiatives aimed at promoting green policies.
A number of data centres and related ICT infrastructures are designed with features that carter for energy efficiency, sustainability, and limited greenhouse gas emissions.
Also, some device makers are adopting green computing concepts in their manufacturing and retail trade channels.
The author, Esmond Shahonya, is an ICT analyst and a telecommunication engineer. Shahonya76@gmail.com