Mitsubishi has led the $50 million Series D funding of the off-grid utility BBOXX.
The company provides pay-as-you-go (PAYG) power in parts of the world that remain off the grid using home solar systems and a proprietary billing system.
Many people living beyond the reach of the power grid are more likely to have a mobile phone than a traditional bank account opening the door for BBOXX, and others, to take advantage of mobile banking and billing.
The latest round of investment, which includes a “substantial” chunk from Mitsubishi Corporation, will be used to back BBOXX’s growth.
The UK-based company claims to have already reached more than one million people via 200,000 installs. So far the bulk of that work has been in Africa but the new investment will see renewed efforts to grow in Asia.
“The funding is further evidence of Japanese interest in Africa and in PAYG solar energy globally. Mitsubishi Corporation’s extensive reach, sector-specific and technological expertise will help us to reach more people without reliable access to modern utilities and services at even greater scale,” said Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and Co-founder, BBOXX. Hamayun also said the firm would use the fresh resources to explore other product offerings. It has already expanded into cleaner cooking stoves.
Mitsubishi has ramped up its activity in the power market via a number of different channels. It owns and operates more than 6GW of renewable energy plants globally. In the US it launched Oriden, a clean energy services company offering construction and asset management and everything in between. It has also partnered on an energy storage complex in Utah billed as the world’s largest.
In March the BBOXX raised $6.65 million via a crowdfunding placement, the largest such round for solar in Africa.
BBOXX’s competitors are also drawing investment. West African PAYG solar company PEG Africa raised $25 million in Series C funding in March this year.
The off-grid solar trade body GOGLA reported in June that the sector had created the equivalent of 370,000 full-time jobs in Africa alone. More than half of those were in rural areas. The same report estimated that with further investment and supportive policies 1.3 million people could be employed in the sector across Africa and south Asia by 2022.
Date: Aug 28, 2019