News Articles

FORBES: Major Socioeconomic Benefits of Connectivity Are Driving Demand for Off-Grid Power

Remote mountain top showing a telecom tower providing rural connectivity.

Connected Society Innovation Fund for Rural Connectivity - GSMA

In the past few decades, mobile connectivity has significantly transformed global society and the global economy. However, according to GSMA, 600 million people still live in areas not covered by a mobile network. The World Bank suggests that raising the connectivity rate to 75% (from 35%) in all developing countries would add as much as 2 trillion USD to collective GDP, and create 140 million jobs worldwide. Clean, smart technology will be pivotal in bringing this substantial market online, unlocking the socioeconomic benefits of connectivity, and providing a compelling market opportunity for companies that fuel this transformation. The socioeconomic benefits of connectivity are driving major demand for telecom service, and as a result, off-grid power is on the rise.

The Challenge of the Digital Divide

According to a report from the World Bank, only about 35% of people in developing countries have access to the internet, compared to about 80% in advanced economies. The challenge of bringing people in developing regions online is a problem of infrastructure reliability and affordability. Hard-to-reach rural communities are plagued by poor, unreliable telecom infrastructure which would cost a fortune to upgrade and maintain, and thus not be a worthwhile investment for telcos due to low revenues.

The Clean, Smart Solution

Clean technology and smart technology are the missing puzzle pieces in providing reliable, low-cost connectivity. Primarily, off-grid technology is much more resilient than grid-based telecom infrastructure. As we are seeing frequently, grid infrastructure is vulnerable to weather-related disruptions which leave both homes and mission-critical services without power.

World map showing countries with major power supply challenges from mid-2020 through 2021

Major power supply challenges from mid-2020 through 2021 (including estimated size of population impacted). IHS MARKIT: 20004655

On the other hand, smart off-grid technology is resilient, and can be proactively maintained from anywhere in the world to ensure its reliability. Smart technology enables remote management of power systems using predictive analytics and advanced energy forecasting. This way, a power system for a cellular tower can be reliably managed through periods of low solar energy generation. The myth that solar infrastructure is unreliable during bad weather is debunked when power management, energy storage and energy forecasting are added to the mix.

And because smart capabilities allow for remote, active power management, off-grid systems deliver enormous upfront cost savings. Smart systems also save on ongoing operating costs by eliminating the need for on-site maintenance visits. Clean, smart technology is thus the solution to providing affordable, reliable connectivity to unconnected regions.

Socioeconomic Benefits Fuelling Demand for Connectivity and Off-Grid Power

Why does this matter?

Well, the socioeconomic benefits unlocked by internet connectivity are life-changing. These benefits are fuelling demand for clean, smart technology since it is the low-cost power solution needed for rural telecommunications.

By increasing broadband infrastructure in unconnected regions of the world, we will create a stronger, more connected global economy. As more people are brought online, countries will be better integrated in the global economy. Improved access to global markets in under-connected countries will make trade flows easier and lead to global supply chain efficiencies. Ultimately, stronger international integration and cooperation in the global market will create an economic boom for developing countries, raise the living standards of millions of people, and create a stronger economy.

Overall, universal connectivity will increase economic growth and development, and clean, smart power is the clear solution to the challenges facing rural connectivity efforts. As a result, the socioeconomic benefits of connectivity are driving the market for clean technology. Due to the development opportunities such technology can unlock, major growth is in the forecast for clean tech.

Read More