Image: Pixabay.

Smart utility infrastructure company Zoodlabs is on a mission to bridge the digital divide in Sierra Leone by powering the country’s submarine fibre optic and metro infrastructure using off-grid solar power supported by battery energy storage.

The new solar power grid will have the capacity to run for up to 356 hours across all Zoodlabs sites without a genset, reducing the networks carbon dioxide emissions by 347.41 tonnes per year.

Access to affordable quality connectivity is still a challenge in Africa. In Sierra Leone, about 18% of the population is connected to the internet: 16% via their phone and 2% from mobile dongles or fixed wireless broadband.

To bridge the digital divide, the government of Sierra Leone leased out the submarine network and its ancillary infrastructure to Zoodlabs. According to the company, one of the quickest ways to leapfrog economic barriers in Africa is to solve the digital divide and make broadband internet access commonplace.

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The company has acted on this philosophy since the start of its operations in Sierra Leone. During the first six months of operation in the country, Zoodlabs reduced the cost of wholesale internet pricing by almost 50%, increased network total capacity from 80GBs to 1/2TBs, and today is rapidly deploying the first and largest multi-tenancy fibre broadband infrastructure in a single city in the Mano River sub-region.

Founder and CEO of Zoodlabs, Davar Fazaeli, said: “Together with our partners CrossBoundary energy, USAID, The Shell Foundation, Powerhive and Netis, we have allocated between $1,5m to $2m in capital investment to produce captive renewable energy of up to 1.2 megawatts, making the submarine fibre optic and our metro infrastructure the first full green network in the sub-region.”

In its journey to build the digital runway for Sierra Leone, Zoodlabs has been mindful of its commitment to the climate. As a result, the company is supportive of smart, environmentally friendly communities.

Head of Business Development at CrossBoundary Energy, James Shoetan, said: “Zoodlabs has an incredible vision to improve Sierra Leone’s broadband internet access and power that infrastructure entirely with off-grid renewable energy. We are thrilled to be working with Zoodlabs, PowerHive, and Netis to deliver this significant project for Sierra Leone’s digital economy. It is a great example of what we think solar energy can do to revolutionise business in Africa.”