BBOXX and Victron Energy to deliver pay-as-you-go solar solutions in DR Congo
BBOXX, a provider of off-grid solar home solutions for rural communities in Africa has entered into an agreement with Victron Energy to provide solar solutions to households across Democratic Republic of Congo.
The technical collaboration with BBOXX forms part of a Victron Energy strategy to provide outstanding solutions to the pay-as-you-go, PAYG, market. Quality of the system components is a key requirement to ensure consumer satisfaction as well as project sustainability and profitability over the years. Victron Energy inverters and charge controllers have for many years proven their robustness which makes the brand a preferred choice for PAYG. Moreover Victron has developed technical features particularly beneficial for systems durability and software integration – remote monitoring, battery life algorithm, overload protections, serial communication ports, etc.
The collaboration with BBOXX will see large solar solutions deployed based on the PAYG model, utilising Phoenix inverters and MPPT solar charge controllers. The systems are seamlessly linked up with BBOXX software which includes customer and payment management as well as smart monitoring and control. This technology proactively troubleshoots battery depletion issues for example, before they become an issue for the customer.
Victron Energy offers many beneficial products for pay-as-you-go (PAYG), enabling customers to take advantage of high quality systems at an affordable cost. Collaborations are being forged with various partners like BBOXX to offer transformative solutions in this domain.
Victron Energy Managing Director, Matthijs Vader said: “We are excited to roll out this collaboration even further and provide opportunities for both urban and rural populations to move up the energy ladder with quality solar systems. Victron Energy welcomes this extension of this venture and wishes all involved every success.”
BBOXX, first launched PAYG solar systems in towns and cities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last year. It has most recently launched in Bukavu with a 20kW installation that powers its petrol station with Victron materials. This has been enabled through a technical collaboration with Victron Energy and will deliver reliable, clean and affordable power to businesses, enhancing productivity and powering growth.
Mansoor Hamayun, CEO, BBOXX, said: “We are proud to work alongside Victron Energy to deliver electricity as the entry point to other modern utilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. BBOXX looks forward to connecting more people in the region and continue its goal of transforming lives and unlocking potential in the developing world.”
Over the last several years new business models have emerged that could considerably accelerate access to reliable electricity, especially in low income countries. These models take advantage of improvements in information and communications technologies (ICT) and the declining cost of renewables. The implementation of the PAYG model in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is one of the most significant examples. In short, PAYG means that a company rents solar energy systems to consumers – households, shops, SMEs, etc. Consumers then use mobile money to transfer payments on a regular basis and pay back their system over a contract period. Once paid, ownership is transferred to the consumer. It is a prepaid scheme and solar systems are automatically blocked if customer payments are overdue. This allows PAYG providers to minimise costs and mitigate risk – whilst consumers overcome the high upfront cost of the technology.
In the DRC less than 14 per cent of citizens have access to any form of reliable electricity, which is a significant barrier to economic development. The combination of BBOXX and Victron Energy technologies serves the energy needs in various areas of the DRC, providing SMEs such as grocery stores, restaurants and micro-processors, with productive power solutions of up to 5.0kW.
Following the launch of BBOXX’s operations in Eastern DRC (Goma and Bukavu), it has rolled out its solar home systems to 85 clients. BBOXX’s customers have access to three types of bpower300 packages: one with a 90L fridge, another with a 40″ TV, and a package that offers both appliances. Several of them have reported a variety of advantages including entertaining their children, being able to feed their whole families and 24/7 lighting that has improved their sense of safety.
This region of around 1.5 million inhabitants experiences regular blackouts which exceed five hours on a daily basis. Solar systems eliminate the time wasted in solving disruption to an energy supply due to these frequent power cuts. Businesses for example can improve productivity with this reliable power and scale up their operations as required. Such systems increase access to affordable and clean power, reducing reliance on diesel generators too.
Operations in the field are conducted in collaboration with GoShop, a Victron Energy authorised distributor in Congo. GoShop supplies and installs solar systems whist BBOXX runs the PAYG activities – project development, payment collection, customer relationship, etc.
One civil servant, aged 36, was recently transferred from Bukavu to Himbi, a neighbourhood where there is no electricity. They now use the bPower300 products at home and say that BBOXX has changed their life. They have light at home, their children can watch television, and they feel safer. The monthly payments and guarantee of materials are also huge benefits, they say.