ImpactAlpha, August 29 – Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation has been in the solar energy game for 40 years. Until recently, that side of of the company didn’t have much of a footprint in Africa, where 600 million people still have little or no access to electricity. That changes with its equity investment in BBOXX, one of the most well-funded off-grid solar players in Africa.
Mitsubishi led BBOXX’s $50 million Series D funding round. The company’s investment in BBOXX follows its foray into African distributed energy last September, when it backed with off-grid investor NEoT Offgrid Africa to support energy access projects in the Ivory Coast.
Mitsubishi’s BBOXX investment is yet another signal of established energy players’ growing appetite to jump into the African market, once seen as too poor and risky to be viable. A decade ago, startups like BBOXX, Zola, d.light and M-Kopa began demonstrating African consumers’ willingness to pay for high-quality energy products and services. (African consumers have spent billions on solar lighting products since 2010, including $143 million in the second half of 2018. Meanwhile, GOGLA and Lighting Global estimate that only 17% to 20% of the off-grid solar lighting market has been reached.)
Energy companies like France’s Engie and EDF, Spain’s EDP Renováveis, GE and Shell have all since invested in the African market via companies like BBOXX.
BBOXX says it has sold 270,000 of its solar home systems and impacted one million people in Rwanda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo. In January, it raised $31 million in equity financing from South African private equity firm Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers.