London-based off-grid solar energy firm Bboxx is relocating its headquarters to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, in its efforts to show its commitment to being an Africa-first company.
As part of the move, the company plans to invest $100 million into the East African country and train some 500 Rwandans in the next five years via a partnership with Kuwait's EnerTech, one of Europe's leading sustainable infrastructure project developers and cleantech investors.
This development, announced at the UK-Rwanda Business Forum held in Kigali, comes alongside its ambitions to start the new year with a ten-fold impact expansion and reach 36 million people by 2028.
Bboxx first graced the African scene 13 years ago. Since then, it has come to provide unconventional electrical supply to over 10% of households in the continent, and down the line upped the range of its offerings.
It already serves around 3.5 million people in 11 local markets with clean energy solutions, including key places like Nigeria, and Togo. In September 2022, the firm acquired Ghana-based PEG Africa, one of the largest providers of distributed energy in West Africa and one of the continent’s fastest-growing companies.
Bboxx, which styles as a data-driven super platform, has built a fully integrated operating system backed by an extensive on-the-ground network to provide households, businesses, and communities a convenient, affordable way to access life-changing solutions, through last-mile logistics and data-powered innovative financing methods.
Founded in 2010 by Mansoor Hamayun, Christopher Baker-Brian, and Laurent Van Houcke, its encompassing goal is to become one of the world's largest next-gen utility firms. Since Africa is central to those ambitions, it only makes sense for the company to be consolidating its position by making unusual yet advantageous moves.
Aside from acquiring PEG Africa, Bboxx is the first company to roll out a solar energy payment subsidy in the continent, as it did in Togo back in 2019. It has raised more than $130 million across 17 funding rounds, counting Mitsubishi Corporation, the World Bank, InfraCo Africa, responsAbility, MacKinnon, Bennett & Company, and OGEF as investors.
By setting up a base in Kigali, the business joins a tiny pool of African tech players flocking to Rwanda. In November 2023, MPost, a digital addressing startup founded in Kenya in 2010, moved its office to Norrsken, an investment fund and co-working hub funded by Swedish impact investors.
Norrsken's Kigali House was unveiled in 2021 as the organization's first entrepreneurship hub outside Sweden. The space has drawn the attention of notables like InstaDeep, PesaChoice, SPENN, Fixa, BioMassters, ZoraBots, Katapult VC, Bestseller Foundation, Howard Buffett Foundation, and the Novartis Foundation.
Several high-profile or high-impact African startups, such as Chipper Cash, Flutterwave, BasiGo, AltSchool, Spleet, and Paystack, have made haste to launch operations in the country in the last few years.
In his statement on the relocation, Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and Co-Founder of Bboxx says: “In our journey to revolutionize access to essential products and services across Africa, it’s only fitting that we position ourselves at the heart of the continent".
"This move to Kigali not only brings us closer to the communities we serve but also cements our commitment to being an Africa-first, data-driven super platform, transforming lives and unlocking potential at an unprecedented scale,” Hamayun adds.
Francis Gatare, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, says Rwanda’s transformation into a hub for tech and innovation is no coincidence but the result of deliberate policies, a conducive business environment, and commitment to offer a competitive jurisdiction.
"Bboxx’s decision to relocate its headquarters to Kigali is welcome and aligns with our efforts for Rwanda as a magnet for smart, sustainable investments. Our unique ecosystem offers a fertile ground for companies like Bboxx to innovate and expand, signaling to the world that Rwanda is open for business and ready for the future.” Gatare explains.