Pioneering collaboration to deliver productive pay-as-you-go solar to urban DRC
Thursday, Jan 11, 2018
BBOXX, a next generation utility, has launched large pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar systems in towns and cities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This has been enabled through a technical collaboration with Victron Energy, manufacturer of components for solar energy systems, and will deliver reliable, clean and affordable power to businesses, enhancing productivity and powering growth.

Less than 14 per cent of citizens in the DRC have access to any form of reliable electricity, which is a significant barrier to economic development. BBOXX is already operating in rural areas of the DRC to drive electrification. This collaboration with Victron signals BBOXX’s aim to also serve the energy needs of urban areas of the DRC, providing SMEs such as grocery stores, restaurants and micro-processors, with productive power solutions of up to 5.0kW.

BBOXX has so far launched operations in Goma, Eastern DRC – a region with a population of over 1.5 million, and where blackouts commonly exceed five hours daily.  These large solar energy solutions will eliminate the time wasted by businesses on solving disruption to energy supply due to these frequent power cuts, thereby improving productivity and giving businesses reliable power necessary to scale up. It also increases access to affordable and clean energy, reducing reliance on diesel generators.

The collaboration will see large solar solutions deployed on BBOXX’s PAYG model, utilising Victron energy components. Significantly, these systems will be linked to BBOXX’s Pulse platform. This connects the customer to the product and also drives efficiency in business operations, for example by linking up to BBOXX’s customer service teams. It also provides remote monitoring and management of its solar systems. This pioneering technology proactively troubleshoots battery depletion issues before they become a problem for the customer.

This technical partnership forms part of BBOXX’s strategy to improve access to electricity for customers with a range of power needs, from small solar home systems of 50W in rural communities, to SMEs in urban areas with higher energy demands of 0.5kW – 5.0kW, and beyond. The solution is already available to distributors, and a similar service has been rolled out to customers in Pakistan through BBOXX’s partner, EcoEnergy.

Mansoor Hamayun, Chief Executive Officer of BBOXX, said: “We are already making an impact in rural DRC with our smart solar systems, providing an on-grid experience in an off-grid setting. There is still a significant need for reliable energy in urban areas and we believe that this collaboration will help deliver a sustainable solution for consumers and businesses alike in towns and cities in the DRC.  

“We look forward to working with partners in the future to deliver our energy services to more customers across the distribution mix, from small rural homes through to urban SMEs, improving productivity and powering economic growth.”

Matthijs Vade, Managing Director of Victron Energy said: “We believe the collaboration with BBOXX will provide opportunities for rural and urban populations to move up the energy ladder with quality solar systems.

“The combination of our MPPT solar chargers and pure sine inverters generates enough to power productive loads such as refrigeration or agricultural machinery. It also addresses the demand from the urban and peri-urban households with higher energy needs but unreliable grid supply. As an innovative technology manufacturer we have developed technical features particularly beneficial for pay-as-you-go systems – including remote monitoring access, smart battery management and overload protections – which link up effectively with BBOXX software solutions.”

BBOXX is currently operating in several other African countries, including Rwanda, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and Togo. The company has so far deployed 150,000 of its solar systems, improving the lives of more than half a million people in 35 countries across the globe, providing reliable electricity for lights, smart phones and home appliances.

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