Mitsubishi Bets on BBOXX
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- Aug 31, 2019 9:16 pm GMTAug 31, 2019 9:16 pm GMT
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A couple weeks ago, I highlighted the rise of off the grid solar in Africa. It’s quickly becoming big business and has the potential to transform a lot of lives on the continent. As it stands now, there are 600 million Africans without access to electricity. What’s more, even those who have grid connections can’t really rely on them, since blackouts are such a pervasive problem. To mitigate the problem, households rely on things like fire, generators and kerosene.
Luckily, a number of companies have caught on to the energy problems in the region and are betting that solar can help solve them. One of the companies I wrote about, Lumos, is the largest such provider in Nigeria. They currently have about 100 thousand customers who each pay around $15 a month in addition to a $40 startup fee. The company has big ambitions, though. They hope to supply solar to 100 million people in the next half decade.
This week, off the grid solar in Africa is in the news again. BBOXX is a London based startup that provides pay-as-you-go power to underserved regions on the planet just received $50 million in series D funding from Mitsubishi. The Japanse company’s cash infusion, along with other funds from their latest round of fundraising, will be used to back the startup’s growth. Speaking of which, their product has already been installed over 200 thousand times, reaching a total of more than one million people. Most of those installs have come in Africa, but the company hopes to pursue further growth in Asia in the coming year.
Mitsubishi’s move with BBOXX underlines a broader interest of Japanese firms in solar and other clean energy pursuits. Mitsubishi alone now owns and operates more than 6GW of net generation capacity, much of that coming from renewable plants.
I think moving forward we’re going to see a lot more of big investments in companies like BBOXX. It will be interesting to see how well the co-exist with conventional grid systems that are almost certain to improve in coming years.