London-based off-grid solar system supplier Bboxx has secured an $8 million loan to further its operations in Rwanda. The loan, denominated in Rwanda’s currency the Rwandan-franc, was provided by the African Development Bank through its Facility for Energy Inclusion’s Off-Grid Energy Access Funds.
Bboxx said Rwanda is the company’s biggest market, with more than 80,000 off-grid solar home systems installed. Receiving a loan in domestic currency lowered Bboxx’s medium-term foreign exchange risks, said the U.K. company.
As the Bboxx business model involves customers paying for solar systems on a pay-as-you-go basis, depending on how much energy is used, currency fluctuations over many years can have negative impacts on the supplier’s balance sheet.
The Off-Grid Energy Access Funds are a $100 million blended finance facility that provides support mainly to companies active in off-grid energy. Bboxx added, the LHGP Asset Management branch of Lion’s Head Group is responsible for management of the fund.
The European Union, Nordic Development Fund, African Development Bank and the Global Environmental Facility are among the institutions that have supported the fund.
More funding for Bboxx
Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder of Bboxx, said: “With substantial operations in Rwanda already, this deal demonstrates confidence in our business model and our ability to scale and deliver much-needed reliable and affordable electricity as the entry point to all other modern utilities.”
In January, Bboxx secured $31 million from Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) to ramp up its Rwanda operations. The AIIM fund is Africa’s largest project-based investment vehicle and the BBOXX deal – made under the group’s AIIF3 pool – secured a stake in the British business’ electrification operations, which have provided more than 750,000 people with power.
Bboxx unveiled a new concept in Togo in late April. The village of Sikpé Afidégnon will become the first of Bboxx’s ‘Tomorrow’s Connected Communities’. The 300-household village has a population of 4,000 people in the south of Togo. With the new project in place, schools, households, streetlights and small shops will be powered using PV and Bboxx will also offer other utility services including clean cooking, internet access and water pumps.
The company will provide internet access through a solar powered telecom tower and with that connection in place, Bboxx can also make use of smart, internet of things applications for remote monitoring and operation of the village micro-grid. At the time of the launch, the company said the new concept would probably be deployed in other regions of Africa.