Bboxx plans electric mobility expansion in DRC, Nigeria, Ghana

By David Whitehouse

Posted on Tuesday, 8 November 2022 13:13
Clean energy systems provider Bboxx is branching out into mobility solutions (Photo supplied)

Clean energy systems provider Bboxx is branching out into mobility solutions, with a partnership to supply electric taxi motorcycles in Rwanda the first step in a wider expansion.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and Ghana are target countries for mobility solutions, CEO Mansoor Hamayun tells The Africa Report.

The DRC is a “good natural next step” that has “enormous market potential”, and Bboxx may deploy mobility solutions there in 2023, Hamayun says. The DRC government in March agreed to extend its clean-energy partnership with Bboxx, originally signed in 2020, for a further two years.

Bboxx in October announced a partnership with Kigali-based e-mobility company Ampersand to provide tens of thousands of electric taxi motorcycles in Rwanda.

While the upfront cost of an electric bike is higher than for one running on an internal combustion engine, Bboxx and Ampersand say electric bike taxis could make more profit while cutting carbon emissions.

Financing solutions

The partners are offering a financing solution in which drivers pay about 10% of the cost of the bike up front, followed by fixed weekly instalments and the cost of battery changes.

The scheme is being launched in Kigali before being rolled out to the rest of the country.

  • Nine in 10 two-wheelers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are purchased for commercial use as taxis or delivery vehicles, research from McKinsey shows. By 2040, McKinsey estimates that between 45% and 57% of vehicles in SSA, excluding South Africa, will be two-wheelers.
  • The segment is likely to electrify much faster than light commercial vehicles, minibuses or passenger cars, McKinsey says. Electric two-wheelers will account for 50% to 70% of sales by 2040, it forecasts.

‘Natural Progression’

Bboxx, which has its head office in the UK and manufacturing operations in China, supplies solar home systems, and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) for clean cooking. It operates in countries including the DRC, Kenya, Togo and Rwanda. In September, Bboxx bought solar finance solution provider PEG Africa to expand into Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Mali.

Hamayun says his aims have evolved from simply wanting to supply clean energy for African homes. He wants to have more than just an “entry-level relationship” with his clients and describes the “customer journey” in e-mobility as “pretty similar” to that in pay-as-you-go clean cooking.  It’s a “natural progression” to seek to address both markets, he says.

He sees an opportunity to build relationships with drivers coming into an agency to change their battery. This takes less than five minutes but may allow sales leads for clean cooking or other services to be developed.

Ampersand has a network of stations where two-wheeler drivers can swap used batteries for freshly charged ones. Hamayun says he will expand into more markets with Ampersand, and is also open to other partnerships.

Bboxx is also interested in other kinds of electric vehicles. Hamayun says he is open to considering solutions for three- and four-wheelers.

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