Bboxx cottons on to pay-as-you-go potential of Burkina Faso


U.K.-based pay-as-you-go solar company Bboxx has announced it will use the cotton industry as its route into a potential 2 million-customer market in Burkina Faso.

The off-grid solar company, which is present in numerous African nations where customers pay for the electricity they consume from its solar home systems (SHS'), yesterday announced it would enter the Sahel nation via a joint venture with French cotton company Geocoton Advens Group.

Bboxx, which has French energy giants Engie and EDF among its significant backers, said the 350,000-strong network of cotton traders managed by Geocoton across West and Central Africa would offer a foothold in Burkina Faso which would enable the London-based company to expand operations beyond the cotton farms.

The former start-up said Geocoton's network would enable it to offer solar electricity even in the eastern and northeastern parts of Burkina Faso afflicted by violence between islamic militants and government-backed militias.

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A statement on Bboxx' website yesterday indicated the company would initially offer customers its SHS units, before expanding into liquefied petroleum gas clean cooking and solar-powered water pumps for farmers.

The company, whose customers pay for the electricity they consume on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis via their mobile phones, has been successful in attracting millions in investment from impact investors include Luxembourg-based Bamboo Capital Partners, Netherlands entity DOEN and Canadian fund MacKinnon, Bennett and Company. It has worked with Dutch cooperative Oikocredit to securitize its SHS business into an asset class and has previously stated an ambition of becoming a full-scale PAYG private utility.

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