ENERGY & UTILITIES
Togo’s Energy Access Initiative
A first of its kind
Following a tender process, BBOXX - a venture-backed next generation utility, developing solutions to provide affordable, clean energy to off-grid communities in the developing world - was awarded a contract to work with the Government of Togo to roll out 300,000 of its solar home systems in the country by 2022. BBOXX aims to create more than 1,000 direct jobs in Togo in the next five years from its activities.
BBOXX is fully vertically integrated, controlling every part of its customer experience. Its market-leading products and appliances coupled with its SMART Solar platform brings machine-learning and customer experience optimisation to rural Africa. It’s groundbreaking financing structure has brought off-grid solar into the world’s financial markets and the new innovative partnership is part of the Government’s aim to dramatically improve access to electricity for people in Togo, particularly in rural areas.
The mission of “CIZO” (which means lighting up in “Guin” language) is to bring electricity to more than two million citizens by 2022. It will also provide the adoption of mobile payment solutions across rural areas, helping to improve the financial inclusion of rural communities.
Mansoor Hamayun, Chief Executive Officer of BBOXX talks through the exciting developments that are currently occurring within the project.
Africa Outlook (AfO): What were the main challenges that you identified at different stages of the Togo Energy Access Initiative and how did you overcome them?
Mansoor Hamayun (MH): In 2016, the Government of Togo launched a tender process to enable private businesses to enter Togo’s energy market after recognising how off-grid energy was starting to take off in East Africa. BBOXX – a next generation utility – engaged with the Government and state organisations to lay out the conditions necessary to operate successfully in the local market.
While there were uncertainties around opening up in a new market, we proved through our experience in other countries such as Rwanda that we can overcome the same energy access challenge and that our concept and system works. We showed that we can apply our model across different geographies, and we have the data to back that up and prove it.
Access to finance is another common stumbling block to setting up operations in a new country. While each country’s financial environment is very different, we drew on deep expertise with our work in Rwanda in involving local banks in the financing process, and had built up a prior relationship with Africa Guarantee Fund.
In addition, private companies like BBOXX need the right regulatory environment in order to operate effectively and scale up. In Togo, it was exciting to see that the Government had created a framework for companies like BBOXX to get involved in plugging the energy access gap.
AfO: Could you tell me a little more about the successes you have achieved within the project so far and how they have impacted the projected growth within Togo?
MH: BBOXX launched its operations in Togo in December, 2017. This came
The Government of Togo’s energy access initiative has received a significant boost following the completion of a pioneering debt finance deal worth US$4 million. As the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa it will unlock locally raised capital to deliver a Government project aimed at improving local people’s quality of life Written by: Phoebe Calver