IPT Powertech, unlocking efficiencies through the ESCO model

How the world’s largest T-ESCO is going from strength to strength

Read this article to learn:

  • Who IPT Powertech are
  • Details of their recently signed ESCO projects in Guinea Conakry and Lebanon
  • How their guaranteed savings contracts have evolved in Nigeria
  • IPT Powertech’s attitude to working with third party equipment providers
  • How IPT Powertech envisage the ESCO investment landscape evolving

IPT PowerTech, the world’s largest ESCO, operates the energy equipment across four countries with the largest number of ESCO sites worldwide. Established in the 1990s, IPT is also a managed service and energy equipment provider with a presence in 11 countries in Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East. TowerXchange speak to IPT PowerTech’s VP and COO, Khaled Habbal to find out more about how their ESCO business is developing.

TowerXchange: Please re-introduce IPT Powertech for readers not familiar with your business.

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

Anchoring on innovation, anticipation and excellence, IPT Powertech has been the frontline in its industry throughout 26 years.

Established in 1993, IPT Powertech is a complete solutions provider combining specialised energy efficient solutions with innovative telecom infrastructure along with managed services, all the way to initiating the Guaranteed Savings Model and T-ESCO Model across Middle East, Africa and South East Asia. IPT is an integrator of top-notch trusted products, developing and identifying best technologies in order to create a product optimising the output of the solution.

Recognised as leading T-ESCO globally, IPT Powertech Group is one the few global players to offer the largest portfolio of hybrid solutions and retain a consistent strong presence within offices in 11 countries as well as a regional coverage of more than 50 countries. With more than 4,500 experts on board, it continuously develops its service offerings to meet the ever-changing industry demands.  

Protection of the environment is strongly embodied in IPT Powertech’s values. This being the case, we are strongly dedicated to providing services that are sustainable, economic as well as socially friendly.

Whilst power and telecom services divisions remain key parts of our business, our focus has increasingly turned to our telecom-ESCO business where we see huge potential.

TowerXchange: How did IPT Powertech become the first ESCO in the world to manage the power systems at more than 10,000 sites? And what is your current ESCO footprint?

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

IPT Powertech Group has always been a front-runner in anticipating and delivering customer’s needs. Whether it’s tailoring specialised solutions to offering a complete power solution, merging hybrid and renewable energy solutions with telecom infrastructure, field managed services and maintenance. We give end-to-end solutions to towercos as well as MNOs and initiate the guaranteed savings model. Having merged two worlds together, we took-on the leading role as the largest ESCO worldwide. Our current pipeline sits around a total of approximately 10,000 sites under Guaranteed Savings and T-ESCO and we remain very ambitious in our growth plan beyond this. 

IPT Powertech currently manages power under T-ESCO contracts in Guinea Conakry and Lebanon and is a major player in the Guaranteed Savings contract of Nigeria. The large number of IPT ESCO sites worldwide and our extensive knowledge makes IPT Powertech the leading T-ESCO globally. We remain extremely determined in our growth plan.

Recognised as a Telecom Energy Service Company (T-ESCO), we offer various models to MNOs and towercos reflecting the strategies for CAPEX savings and CAPEX leasing, while ensuring the deliverables of power availability and reliability to the network- respecting all SLAs related- are met.

TowerXchange: To illustrate the adaptability of the ESCO model, please contrast the operating conditions across your footprint.

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

In Guinea Conakry we signed an ESCO agreement with Orange in 2018. We have already initiated the solar upgrade and implementation of all the power equipment on sites, a cornerstone for the system efficiency.  Out of the total number of sites, around a third are entirely off-grid with the quality and availability of on-grid sites varying significantly.

In Lebanon, we have signed an ESCO contract with both operators, Alfa and Touch in 2018 and 2019, covering their entire national networks. Grid availability in Lebanon is not reliable in terms of hours, and not homogenous across the country, more urban areas have better power availability versus rural areas, which makes it more complicated. Thus, our customised power solutions cater to the MNOs different needs and geographies.

TowerXchange: Can you tell us more about your unique experience in Nigeria for the past few years, specifically with the initiation of the Guaranteed Savings Model?

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

Back in 2009, IPT Powertech Group was the first to offer the hybrid solutions in Nigeria to Zain, who eventually became Airtel.

Over the years, we served our major client in Nigeria IHS Towers, by repeatedly re-engineering our proposed solutions to match the growing site requirements. Our stellar achievement revolved around the deployment of hybrid concepts on their sites, which eventually got us selected as their Preferred Power Solution Vendor.

The Guaranteed Savings Model, initiated and implemented in Nigeria, is a risk-free approach for securing full economisation and savings for the operators and towercos. The model works by reducing the CAPEX and OPEX to reach the optimal Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) while maximising the lifetime of the equipment.  The success of this model is attributed to several factors varying between the quality of our products, technical knowledge of the technical team, and constant remoting alongside adequate O&M training all under one umbrella.

Across the years, we have lifted our organisational and operational standards to meet the international requirements specifically on HSE standards as well as environmental aspects. This was carried through reduction of CO2 emissions and adapting more environmentally friendly solutions through renewable energy. Safety is a top priority in our industry and the best way to ensure it is via proactive as well as preventive measures. 

TowerXchange: IPT Powertech are unique among ESCOs in that you manage the power systems for all (both) the MNOs in one market: Lebanon. What incremental efficiencies are unlocked when you aggregate and manage all the sites in a country?

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

Creating synergy increases the efficiency of the field teams, whereby each team will have more sites within a lower radius. This directly impacts the availability since mean time to repair (MTTR) is being reduced. 

Stationed as the focal point from both ends, the number of solutions deployed on site is diminished and less effort is required. Being able to have multiple operators in one country result in more savings for all MNOs under the program as all stakeholders will benefit from the economy of scale.

TowerXchange: Could you take us through the phases of ESCO enable “quick wins”, with your partnership with ORANGE Guinea.

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

Prior to the submission of the preliminary offer to Orange, the proposal went through the negotiations stage to ensure fairness to all stakeholders both technically and commercially. Adequate site surveys and audit were essential for the gathering of specific technical data, for CAPEX optimisation.

In October 2018, IPT Powertech Guinea initially took over the management of the existing power equipment on sites representing 100% of the biggest network of the country, including Operation and Maintenance. We are progressing in line with the strategic direction of Orange, by being fully committed to the KPIs and SLAs, while Orange is benefitting from all the agreed savings. Our modernisation has been aligned with strategic direction of Orange, and in full synergy with the SLAs and KPIs ensuring that Orange gets the optimal benefits.

TowerXchange: Congratulations on IPT Powertech’s recent successful capital raise! What is about the ESCO business model, and IPT Powertech as a business, that you think attracts investment from DFIs?

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

In order to accommodate the exponential growth and finance further ESCO opportunities, IPT Powertech has successfully raised external funding from several financial institutions such as DEG, EIB, FINNFUND and Proparco.

In order to accommodate the exponential growth and finance further ESCO opportunities, IPT Powertech has successfully raised external funding from several financial institutions such as DEG, EIB, FINNFUND and Proparco

Our business model coupled with the financial strength of the group attracted the DFIs to partner with IPT Powertech specially in the direction of improving power availability, reducing CO2 emissions, and providing better availability of the networks in the country where we operate, and increasing employment opportunities for the local talent.

TowerXchange: I’d like to understand the productivity of an ESCO of scale such as yours: how many sites do you have the capacity to modernise on a monthly basis? And are your footprints expanding through new site build – if so, who is undertaking that build, you, the MNO or towerco?

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

IPT Powertech’s capacity to modernise existing sites has been significantly altered and fine-tuned over the years. The challenges reside in the factors related to country-specific parameters such as the availability of skilled subcontractors and workers, weather conditions, support of the MNO/towerco, et cetera. All these factors tremendously affect the capacity and speed of such an activity. As for new sites, IPT Powertech is responsible for the design, supply and installation of power equipment. The pace and capacity in rolling these sites is usually faster than modernising already existing ones.

Our capacity depends from one market to another and has all been aligned with the MNOs and towerco strategic requirements. The group being vertically integrated, enables us to direct our resources from manufacturing of the major equipment all the way to installing on sites, which makes IPT Powertech the most agile in implementing on time and meeting the performance indicators. 

TowerXchange: Finally, how do you see the immediate and long-term pipeline of opportunities for ESCOs? And how can we accelerate that pipeline to unlock greater efficiencies faster?

Khaled W. Habbal, VP & COO, IPT Powertech:

While the ESCO market growth has been driven for the past two years by the Orange strategic direction, we do find that many global MNOs are considering the ESCO model specifically in areas where power availability is a challenge.

We see a lot of opportunities coming in the market- whether in the Middle East, East Africa, North and Central Africa, or West Africa. There is a lot of global interest in the ESCO model, and we are in discussion with major MNOs to further expand the knowledge on the benefits of the ESCO model, and its adaptability to their different needs.

We see in the next years, major drive particularly from MNOS, who already took strategic decision not to sell their towers and to keep it as strategic asset by divesting the challenge of power particularly where power availability is not reliable.

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