Decentralised solar powered systems quietly ramping up across Africa
Integrated electricity company EDF has become a shareholder in next-generation utility Bboxx Kenya.
Together the two companies aim to provide access to clean, reliable, affordable, CO2 free energy to more than two million Kenyans with solar home systems by 2025.
Under the terms of the agreement, EDF takes a 23% stake in Bboxx Kenya. In addition to the equity investment, EDF will bring its commercial resources and experience from developing off-grid solutions in several African countries.
EDF’s investment in Bboxx’s Kenya operations will accelerate expansion into what is currently Bboxx’s largest market. Bboxx manufactures, distributes and finances decentralised solar powered systems in developing countries and has been operating in Kenya since 2011. To date, it has positively impacted the lives of 500,000 individuals, rural households, communities and SMEs across Kenya.
The Kenyan market represents a major growth opportunity for Bboxx and its partners. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bboxx’s business model has been resilient, with plans to ramp up shop openings across the country to meet growing consumer demand.
As a result, Bboxx and current shareholder African Infrastructure Investment Fund 3 (AIIF3), a fund managed by Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), are contributing further investment in Bboxx Kenya. This builds on momentum from the USD 31 million investment from AIIM in Bboxx’s Kenya, Rwanda and DRC operations in 2019.
Ashwin West, AIIM Investment Director: “We are excited to be working with EDF in the off-grid energy sector, supporting our shared goal of providing clean, affordable energy to two million Kenyans by 2025. Leveraging accessible technology through strategic partnerships also allows us to bring productive inputs to many and create lasting, impactful change.”
Pay as you go to scale up access to decentralised solar powered systems
This latest step in Bboxx and EDF’s relationship follows the 50% joint venture deal between Bboxx and EDF in Togo, launched in 2018. They recently doubled down on their partnership in Togo, moving beyond Solar Home Systems (SHS) to also include solar-powered irrigation systems for sustainable farming with partners like SunCulture. Bboxx and EDF have worked on various innovative projects in Togo, including launching Tomorrow’s Connected Community where an entire Togolese village is powered by solar energy.
Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and Co-Founder of Bboxx: “Expanding our strong partnership with EDF after success in our Togo joint venture demonstrates our commitment to scale and expand access to essential off-grid solar energy. By forging strategic partnerships with major global firms, we can mobilise substantial investment to accelerate progress towards UN’s SDG 7 – clean energy for all.”
This investment by EDF in Kenya will turbo-charge the roll-out of Bboxx’s Solar Home Systems (SHS) available to customers on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis using mobile money. Bboxx’s management platform Bboxx Pulse, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, enables remote management and monitoring. This means the company can scale access to clean energy across vast locations.
Valerie Levkov, EDF’s Senior Vice President Africa, Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean Division: “At EDF, we are excited to build on our existing partnership with Bboxx to further ramp up our common activities in the field of off-grid development in several African countries. We are very happy to work with such a like-minded partner who shares our commitment to building a low-carbon future. Our expansion on the Kenyan market is part of our CAP 2030 strategic goal of tripling our activities at the international level.”