ImpactAlpha, January 14 – South African private equity firm Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers is paying $31 million for a minority stake in off-grid solar firm BBOXX. Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers, or AIIM, manages $2.1 billion in African infrastructure investments as part of South African financial services group Old Mutual. Its investment will support BBOXX’s goal of installing more than two million solar systems in Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by 2022.
The investment from the infrastructure fund signals a new maturity for BBOXX and the broader off-grid energy market.
U.K.-based BBOXX launched in 2010 with a pay-as-you-go solar home kit that it marketed to low-income African households without electricity. The company has since sold 150,000 systems that serve 800,000 people. Its goal is to enable energy access for 20 million people by 2020.
BBOXX is now positioning itself as a “next generation” utility company, offering solar systems that can cater to community and commercial institutions and eyeing expansion into other services, like water, gas, and the internet. BBOXX’s investment from Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers will allow the company to “turbo-charge” its growth in East Africa and “drive disaggregation in what has traditionally been a vertically integrated market,” BBOXX CEO Mansoor Hamayun said in a statement.
Prior to AIIM, BBOXX had raised more than $70 million in debt and equity capital and forged partnerships with solar manufacturer Victron Energy, global energy company EDF, GE, telecommunications company Orange and others.
BBOXX also was named a winner, for energy, of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, announced on the first day of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The prizes carry a $600,000 award. Other winners include We Care Solar (health), Sanku (food) and Ecosofft (water). (Disclosure: ImpactAlpha’s David Bank is a board member of nonprofit We Care Solar.)