BBOXX, a next generation utility, has signed a pioneering deal with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which will bring reliable, renewable electricity to 2.5 million citizens in the DRC by 2020.
The DRC Government’s “Energie pour Tous” initiative, which puts off-grid solar at the heart of solving the significant energy access issue in the DRC, has made a significant stride forward with this collaboration. The Government programme aims to support national rural electrification through off-grid solar kits and mini-grids, recognising that traditional grid infrastructure is not a viable solution in rural DRC.
BBOXX is the first company to sign a contract with the Government to put this vision into action. Importantly, the Government is providing an import tax exemption on the solar equipment. This will reduce the overall price of installing solar energy systems in the DRC, making it easier to reach the end customer.
As a result of this deal, millions of customers in the DRC will benefit from clean, reliable and affordable solar energy, as well as BBOXX’s innovative technology. Customers will be able to pay through mobile money as little as $15 per month for a light, radio and phone system.
BBOXX’s smart solar home systems are remotely monitored using cloud-based technology, so that any issues such as battery depletion can be resolved before becoming a problem for the customer. This data-driven proactive customer service is ideally suited to the DRC where remote communities are spread across vast locations.
This off-grid solution will be applied at scale across the country. The roll-out of BBOXX systems will create 10,000 jobs in the DRC as part of this partnership. The solar systems will be distributed through BBOXX’s network as well as with BBOXX’s distribution partner in Kinshasa, Orange Energie.
BBOXX has already been operating in the DRC through its partnership with Victron Energy to provide large pay-as-you-go solar to the urban region Goma in Eastern DRC. With 62 million people in the DRC living off-grid – amounting to 10 per cent of Africa’s un-electrified population – this deal will therefore expand BBOXX’s operations across the country to also serve its vast off-grid communities.
This is the latest in a string of deals BBOXX has made across Africa and Asia, which has seen the company partner with governments, investors, technology firms, telecommunications companies and local Distributed Energy Service Companies (DESCOs) to bring clean and affordable energy to previously overlooked communities.
BBOXX announced a similarly innovative deal with the Government of Togo in December 2017, where the firm won a contract to roll out 300,000 solar home systems to off-grid communities in Togo by 2022.
Laurent Van Houcke, Chief Operations Officer and co-founder of BBOXX, said, “It is really encouraging to see the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) recognize off-grid energy solutions as instrumental to providing electricity to its citizens.
“The government has provided the right regulatory framework and tariff policies that has allowed private companies like BBOXX to work effectively in the country’s energy industry for the benefit of its citizens. We are also looking forward to working with the Government to support their campaign to raise awareness of the country’s energy access deficit – and playing a significant role in solving this pressing issue.
“There are currently over 1 billion people in the world without access to electricity – we are committed to dramatically reducing this number. Our vision is to harness the power of pioneering data and technology to leapfrog traditional grid infrastructures and generate sustainable economic development by providing an on-grid experience in an off-grid setting.”
The Minister of Rural Development in DRC, Bitakwira Bihona-Hayi Justin said: “The private sector has a key role to play in the off-grid electrification of the DRC. The DRC has passed a law in 2014 to completely privatise the energy sector to attract private investors. This partnership with BBOXX will bring basic energy services through a unique technology to the large off-grid population base in DRC”