Monday, 2 August 2010

Back to Busy: BBOXX is Starting Production

The weekend is over, and the BBOXX team is back in business. Today, August 2, is an important day for the company: we are currently starting production for the BB5, BBOXX's signature, solar- and grid-powered portable battery. 

The BB5

The BB5 will be BBOXX's entry point into the Rwandan market, offering an affordable energy solution to a population whose use of cell-phones (30% of the population owns a mobile phone), portable radios, electric razors, sewing machines and other small electronic appliances far exceeds its access to the electricity network (for cost and infrastructure reasons, only 6% of the Rwandan population has access to the grid from their home). 

The BB5 will aim to replace less sustainable and more polluting solutions like small, disposable batteries - for which there is currently no recycling facility in Rwanda - and car batteries. Enthusiastic discussions with local businessmen, retailers, and even the Ministers of Education and Infrastructure, have given BBOXX an optimistic outlook on the possible success of its product. 

Example of Communal Mobile-Phone Charging Stations in Kigali

With its battery fully loaded, a BB5 can charge up to 20 mobile phones, can power a low-energy lamp for 10 hours, and a radio for 8. Although the solar panel on top of the box will only charge it up to 20% in a day, that percentage very often makes up for the average daily energy consumption of a Rwandan citizen - usually around the 10 Wh range. (For the sake of comparison, an average U.K. citizen uses about 16 kWh per day; a Rwandan citizen will use in a year what a U.K. citizen consumes in a day, according to the World FactBook...). 
In any case, the BB5 can be quickly and fully charged on the grid (or on one of BBOXX's upcoming projects, the solar-powered Energy Kiosk), and then brought back to areas where electricity is unavailable. To use a basic example: instead of traveling two hours to charge his/her mobile phone, a villager will now be able to charge the BB5 itself, and, coming back with a fully loaded battery, offer about a week of electricity to those around him/her.   

The BB5 will be completely assembled in Rwanda. J. Claude Bizimana and Pacifique Karangwa, both students in local university, are BBOXX's first employees. They will be putting together the BB5's internal circuit in the coming months, with the first boxes expected to be sold in September. From there, BBOXX hopes to grow and expand its operations... All in good time.


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