By Foday Moriba Conteh
Orange Sierra Leone, as telecommunications business entity, was among those that received a 2022 National Climate Ambassador Award. The Chief Executive Officer of the Company, Sekou Amadou Bah, received the prestigious Award on behalf of the company from the Minister of Environment, Professor Foday Jaward, for the telecommunications company’s impactful actions and support in protecting the environment and preserving it against the devastating consequences of global Climate Change.
It is on record that the company made significant gains in accelerating its solar projects in Africa and the Middle East with the avowed objective of reducing its carbon footprint to zero by 2040 an effort that is evident in Orange’s vigorous deployment of solar panels across the country.
The company came to the realization that there is the need to make use of solar systems in the entire region that many of its sites were not connected to the electricity grid and so therefore was compelled to rely on an alternative source to back up the quality of the grid.
Instead of making use of generators to generate electricity for the effective functioning of the company’s facilities, that is using fuel – fossil energy that emits CO2) in most operational areas of its subsidiaries, therefore, Orange put several mechanisms in place, the solar panels being inclusive, and with partners specializing in energy, has ensured the deployment of innovative solar solutions with the latest generation batteries, avoiding the use of fuel.
Putting it into perspective, Orange Group has also positioned itself in its operational countries to reduce its environmental footprint and is the largest deployer of solar panels, with a renewable energy use rate already at over 65% for Orange Sierra Leone, 50% for Orange Guinea, and 41% for Orange Madagascar.
“These solar panel solutions have also been deployed in other African and Middle Eastern countries where Orange is present, like Liberia, for instance, where 75% of Orange’s telecom sites are equipped with solar panels. In total, Orange has installed solar panels at 5,400 of its telecom sites (some 100% solar, others hybrid) saving 55 million liters of fuel each year,” an official of the telecoms entity stated authoritatively.
With other affiliates, Orange-SL has made environmental targets a core business concern and a major priority for its Corporate Social Responsibility in meeting the company’s net zero-carbon initiative, this medium was informed.
The company is on record that in 2021, Orange-SL launched the Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) Committee to help implement, rollout and monitor all programs and make recommendations to the Management on issues of EHS for onward action.
It is also commendable that the telecoms company expedited its green energy projects by migrating 334 out of its 505 sites to solar (+65% sites with solar) and to increase its target for renewable energy ration from 33% to 41% by the end of 2022.
So far Orange-SL is committed to make its Bo Data Center completely solar powered by 2023, to provide an on-grid solar solution for the Freetown Data Center in order to reduce the load by 2023, the expansion of site footprint to install more solar panels, swapping of existing solar panels with high power panels, the provision of Li-on batteries instead of OPZ to all new sites, and the training of over 150 employees on EHS programs as well as rolling out 7 community engagements and disseminating over 500 EHS awareness messages and tips.
“Our goal is to create as much awareness on EHS programs and increase the share of our renewable energy mix in Sierra Leone. For us putting Environment, Health, and Safety into practice means implementing actions in the EHS field through training, awareness, and engagements,” an official of the company intimated.
It could be recalled that Orange-SL received the 2019 Environmental Care Award presented by Shout Climate Change Africa on the 23rd November 2019 at the Miatta Conference Centre during a well-attended programme.
Orange SL has participated extensively in environmental and corporate social investment. Some include, but are not limited to: Obtaining an Environmental Impact Assessment License (EIA) from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in accordance with the EPA Act 2008.
The telecoms entity remains the first company to secure an EIA license from EPA in 2018 upon the successful completion of an Environmental and Social Impact assessment study with its consultant, CEMMAT. That License is secured annually.