Home African CEOs Interviews Exclusive: Bboxx is Improving Access to Renewable Energy Across Africa
Interviews - September 29, 2020

Exclusive: Bboxx is Improving Access to Renewable Energy Across Africa

Bboxx is a renewable energy solutions company which designs, deploys and finances decentralised solar-powered systems across Africa. 

The company, which was founded in 2010 by Mansoor Hamayun, Christopher Baker-Brian and Laurent Van-Houcke, is improving the standard of living for families across Africa by offering accessible, secure, and renewable electricity.

Mansoor spoke to Business Elites Africa about how far BBox has come and the future of Africa’s energy tech industry.

Q: Tell us more about Bboxx.

A: Bboxx is a next-generation utility, transforming lives and unlocking potential through access to energy. We exist to solve a major global problem: energy poverty. It is unacceptable that 840 million people across the globe live without access to energy and a further one billion live without a reliable electrical supply. To overcome this issue, we use IoT (Internet of Things) technology to provide pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar energy to off-grid communities and those with an unreliable grid across Africa and Asia. We operate in 11 markets, with some of our biggest ones including Rwanda, Kenya, Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are also proud to be contributing to 11 out of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Q: What path led to where Bboxx is right now?

A: In 2010, myself, Christopher Baker-Brian and Laurent Van-Houcke met while studying electrical engineering at Imperial College London. Throughout our travels we witnessed first-hand the challenges businesses and communities faced due to unreliable or lack of electricity. We saw the potential to create an affordable, sustainable and commercial solution that would tackle this.

We founded Bboxx when we graduated and have got to where we are today through forging strategic partnerships along the journey. Our $50 million Series D funding round last year led by Mitsubishi Corporation is a key example. We have also partnered with governments in Togo and the DRC on our mission to bring energy to as many people as possible. As we celebrate our tenth year in business this year, we are proud to have reached a major milestone – having positively impacted over one million lives through access to energy, and we have ambitious plans for the future.

Q: What would you say is the greatest strength of Bboxx? 

A: Our people are crucial – their innovation, commitment and ambition make everything possible. And our technology is absolutely core to what we do. It has enabled us to scale quickly and bring clean energy to as many people as we can. Everything runs on Bboxx Pulse®, our comprehensive management platform. Bboxx Pulse® allows us to remotely monitor and manage our Solar Home Systems (SHS) spread across vast and distributed global locations. The data we collect allows us to better service our customers.

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Q: How is Bboxx tackling the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Throughout the ong oing global pandemic, we have found that demand for

our services has been robust, as energy truly is an essential need. We have been innovating though to ensure that we can keep the lights on for our customers even in tough times. We introduced the ‘crisis energy’ scheme in Togo, the DRC, Kenya and Rwanda, providing bonus days of energy for free for customers who pay upfront. In the DRC we have also been providing vital electricity for lighting in hospitals as well as donating hand washing stations for local government.

Q: How is Bboxx reaching remote areas in Africa?

A: Our technology, Bboxx Pulse® enables us to remotely monitor and manage our hundreds of thousands of Solar Home Systems (SHS) spread across globally distributed locations. This makes running our business incredibly efficient – from our head office in London, to our manufacturing in China, to our Next Generation Utilities (NGUs) in the likes of Rwanda, Kenya, Togo and the DRC. It also means that we can expand energy access to customers who were previously thought to be unreachable.

Read the rest of the interview in the latest edition of our digital magazine here: Find it on pages 70 & 71.

 

Editor’s Note: This interview was originally conducted by Simeon Onoja.

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