In October 2021, Bboxx, a U.K.- based company created to tackle energy poverty, expanded its market to Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria. As more than 85 million people live without electricity in the country, Bboxx aims to address Nigeria’s electricity crisis by providing electricity to 20 million Nigerians over 10 years. With Nigeria being its largest market to date, this could yield major results for both Bboxx and the Nigerian economy.
Nigeria’s Electricity Crisis
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $432 billion in 2020. However, problems with access to strong, reliable electricity hinder Nigeria’s development. Despite being “Africa’s largest market for diesel generators,” close to 50% of Nigerians lack access to electricity with rural Nigerians accounting for the majority of those without access. Moreso, the majority of Nigerians with access to electricity struggle with “an extremely unreliable grid,” Bboxx CEO Mansoor Hamayun told The Africa Report.
This “lack of reliable power costs Nigeria $26 billion” annually, which equates to 2% of GDP, according to the World Bank. In light of this, in February of 2021, the World Bank “approved $500 million to support improvements in electricity distribution, including investment in on- and off-grid renewable energy.” Through this commitment, Bboxx was able to launch into the electricity market.
How Will Bboxx Operate in Nigeria?
Bboxx Nigeria plans to provide a solution to Nigeria’s electricity crisis by “expanding access to clean, affordable and reliable Solar Home Systems (SHS).” Bboxx uses a long-term pay-as-you-go system whereby “customers only pay for what they use” in “monthly installments from [one] to [three] years.”
Bboxx will especially target individual households in the rural areas of Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and Ondo, alongside “small business owners and market traders.” Bboxx’s strategy is to strive to electrify 100,000 Nigerian households per year for three years in order to meet its goal of 20 million people over 10 years. Bboxx also plans to release other products and services in Nigeria such as “LPG clean cooking solutions, solar-powered water pumps for farmers and smartphones.” The first Bboxx shop in Nigeria opened in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State in October 2021. The company hopes to roll out its services to the rest of the target areas, eventually spreading nationwide.
The Impact of Solar Power
Because solar energy is more affordable than both diesel and kerosene, adopting solar sources means saving money. Such savings would be useful in curbing Nigeria’s high inflation rates while allowing investment into other areas. This would not only result in a better living standard for Nigerians in terms of electricity access but will also create vast improvements in other services like health care and education. Moreover, the solar home systems provider estimates that its expansion into Nigeria will create 10,000 new green employment prospects in a span of 10 years. Overall, the Bboxx expansion into Nigeria would help create new employment opportunities for Nigerians, thus enabling a booming economy and an upward trend in Nigeria’s development.
Unfortunately, while Bboxx is currently able to operate without cost constraints, the risk that the Nigerian naira may continue to devalue poses a threat to Bboxx’s operations. Nevertheless, as Hamayun told The Africa Report that it was likely “a short-term issue.” Looking at the long-term, the “fundamentals are super-strong,” he said.
The Bottom Line
While the project is still in its early stages, the prospects are clear: Nigeria’s off-grid clean market has significant potential. With the assistance of Bboxx, these transitions will revolutionize Nigeria’s electricity crisis, system and economy while reducing carbon emissions.
– Divine Adeniyi