Zimbabwe’s Econet Expands Use of Tesla Batteries

A Tesla Powerwall battery at an Econet site in Harare. Photographer: Cynthia R Matonhodze

HARARE (Bloomberg) –Econet Wireless Ltd., Zimbabwe’s largest mobile-phone operator, plans to expand its use of batteries from Tesla Inc. for its operations beyond providing back-up power at base stations.

“We have plans to scale up the use of the batteries at Econet core-network sites and other group installations,” the company said Thursday in an emailed response to questions. “The use of full hybrid and off-grid power solutions is even more urgent today, in light of the widening deficit between electricity demand and supply.”

The company didn’t provide details about the order for batteries it had placed with Palo-Alto, California-based Tesla.

Econet currently has 520 lithium-ion batteries that are used to provide back-up power at its 1,300 base stations. The telecommunications company said that use of the batteries had cut reliance on diesel-run generators by 75%.

The southern African nation faces power cuts lasting as much as 18 hours a day, with blackouts caused by a faulty coal-power station in Hwange and a regional drought that shuttered output at the main hydropower plant in Kariba.