Solar-powered cell towers aim to connect 10 million people in DRC

CANADIAN NuRAN Wireless has entered into a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) contract with Orange DRC SA to create solar-powered cell phone towers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

NuRAN is partnering with Orange DRC and various multi-network operators to construct and operate 2,000 solar-powered communication masts over the next 40 months. The towers will be erected across the DRC with a particular focus on rural communities with populations around 5,000.

The supplier of mobile and broadband wireless infrastructure solutions has established  four different site categories to support multiple population densities and coverage patterns. Once fully operational, the network will have the capacity to connect close to 10 million people.

Francis Letourneau, NuRAN CEO said : ‘We are extremely pleased to enter into this agreement with Orange DRC. This contract is in line with our strategy to expand the NaaS business model across Africa. This is our second significant contract in Africa and with Orange after having already previously announced our agreement with Orange Cameroon SA. This contract further demonstrates the large demand from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) for this type of service and revenue model as well as improving the partnership with Orange.

‘Based on our estimates the 2,000 towers will provide 2.75G connectivity to up to 10 million people, or 11.5 percent of the DRC population, that currently have to travel just to make a phone call. The social and environmental impact as well as our commitment to sustainable development embodies NuRAN’s mission and vision to connect the world, one connection at a time. This is a major turning point for NuRAN,’ said Letourneau.

Solar-powered cell towers to meet SDGs

The contract between Orange DRC and NuRAN has a minimum ten-year term for each of the sites, which will consist of the installation by NuRAN and its partners of its networking equipment.

Orange DRC will:

  • provide usage rights to the frequencies assigned to it and over which NuRAN’s equipment may be broadcast;
  • assist in obtaining the necessary site construction permits;
  • make available sufficient floor space, power and cooling for NuRAN’s gateway equipment;
  • assist NuRAN with the interconnection work and integration and inter-working testing of the Gateway equipment;
  • configure the Core Network and related equipment (hardware and software) for optimal Site performance;
  • assist with testing of equipment.

NuRAN in turn has agreed to ensure that during the term of the agreement the activities of distribution and resale of mobile devices, SIM cards, recharge cards, and/or any other equipment or service necessary for subscribers to use the mobile services of the NuRAN/Orange DRC sites, will be managed by a local organisation. The parties agreed to enter into a distribution contract within 3 months after the start of the partnership to govern the terms of the proposed distribution and resale activities.

Orange SA, which pioneered the energy service company model in Africa, has a presence in 14 sub-Saharan African markets. By expanding mobile coverage into previously uncovered rural areas and partnering with Orange, NuRAN’s NAAS service has the added benefit of contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The new agreement with Orange DRC is the second agreement between Orange and NuRAN in the past three months. In October 2020, Orange and NuRAN entered into their first NAAS contract with Orange Cameroon for the construction of up to 272 sites in Cameroon.



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