British solar panel manufacturer raises £24.1m to expand into Kenya

BBoxx solar panel
10 million people are set to gain energy access through two million solar systems by 2022. Photo: Twitter/BBOXX_HQ

London-based BBOXX has raised £24.1m ($31m) to enable it to expand in Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The British solar panel manufacturer has already deployed more than 150,000 solar systems, helping nearly 1m people in 35 countries and made over £20m in sales in 2017. For people previously off grid, it offers pay-as-you-go solar power that is cheaper and cleaner than kerosene.

The deal between BBOXX, which describes itself as a “next generation utility platform”, and Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) will see 10 million people gain energy access through two million solar systems by 2022.

Through its AIIF3 fund, AIIM is investing USD 31 million for a minority stake in BBOXX’s operations in Rwanda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This investment will accelerate the roll-out of BBOXX’s solar systems which combine solar panels and batteries with pioneering technology, available on a pay-as-you-go basis via mobile money.

The funds will be applied across BBOXX’s distribution mix, positively impacting a range of customers including households, schools and SMEs across rural, urban and peri-urban regions. It will help in enabling economic growth in these communities by creating new markets through the entry point of electricity.

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Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder of BBOXX, said: “This latest deal with AIIM shows BBOXX’s commitment to mobilising greater investment and capital in the off-grid sector, through partnering with major global companies.

“AIIM’s investment will turbo-charge our operations in Rwanda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This will allow us to scale rapidly and continue to drive disaggregation in what has traditionally been a vertically integrated market.

“We look forward to working together to power economic growth and transform the lives of underserved communities, by creating a platform which will bring access to affordable utility provision and value-added services.

Jurie Swart, CEO of Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) added: “We are delighted to be working with BBOXX to expand off-grid solar electricity to millions of people previously without access to basic utilities. BBOXX shares our vision to remove barriers to economic growth and facilitate the development of Africa’s economies.

“It is also telling that an infrastructure fund like ours is backing distributed solar through investing in a company of the calibre of BBOXX. It reflects both the ambition of BBOXX and the maturity of the off-grid sector.”

This AIIM investment is the latest in a string of deals that has seen BBOXX forge strategic partnerships across the industry, working with leading global electricity company EDF in Togo, world-leading telecommunications firm Orange in West Africa, as well as technological partners, investment institutions and local governments, to expand energy access at scale.

BBOXX has brought electricity to 750,000 people in frontier markets, with substantial operations in countries including, Rwanda, Kenya, Togo, the DRC, Nigeria and Pakistan.

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