Sunday, 21 November 2010

BBOXX’s first steps in the Republic Democratic of Congo

BBOXX was invited to Goma by Eric de Lamotte, a successful Belgian businessman and philanthropist who has a broad experience of doing business in the North Kivu with his numerous for-profit and charitable organisations such as En Avant Les Enfants, Kivu Travel or his brand new micro finance Smico. 

The main aim of this trip was to evaluate the market potential for our solar standalone energy solutions and meet his Congolese partners to analyse the hurdles and barriers to market entry that we will have to face when doing business in this part of Africa that has just come out of a long period of unrest and conflict. 

Laurent Van Houcke (right), BBOXX's partner and director of African operations, is presenting the BB5 to Eric de Lamotte (middle) and his Congolese partner (left).
We carried out a detailed market research on the solar and electricity market in Goma which lead to the following findings:
  • There are around 6 hours of blackout every day which force people to use generators.
  • A medium sized businesses spend around 75$/week for fuel. This is around 4,000$/year
  • There is a clear potential for carbon financing.
  • Photovoltaic panels in Goma cost around 6,5$/Watt.
  • Lead-acid batteries in Goma cost around 2,4$/Ah.
  • PV panels have on average five hours of peak power output in the North Kivu.
  • Most solar systems come fro China and are poorly sized, designed and installed. 

We noticed the poor maintenance of the electrical network in Goma and the extend to which people go to get access to electricity during power cuts.

Unprotected and rusty 50kVA transformer on the top of Mont Goma.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

BBOXX’s assembly line running at full speed in Kigali

The clock is ticking for BBOXX’s shop in Rwanda where the last battery boxes of the initial batch are being produced.

Our shop has been operational for two months and has 12 workers employed that can produce around 65 BB5s per day. 400 boxes were produced for our charitable arm, e.quinox, which has now implemented two new kiosks in Rwanda using the BB5. We have around 200 BB5s out of our 1400 first batch still to grab at our shop in Kigali! Hurry up as they will probably be gone within the next few days.

Our shop manager Kellen is handling the over-the-counter sales and the after-sale services of our products. She has an important role has she is the main person representing BBOXX in front of customers.
Kellen, BBOXX's shop manager in Kigali, is sitting behind her desk.
Kellen starting to distribute the BB5 to our first enthusiastic customers.

BBOXX starting operations in the Central African Republic

BBOXX has created a partnership with Energie Solutions Durbales in Central African Republic for the representation and distribution of BBOXX’s energy solutions. Olivier Udahemuka, director of sales and distribution in Rwanda, was invited by Energie Solutions Durables to elaborate and concretise a partnership to advertise our company’s culture and distribute our products in the Central African Republic where only 4% of the population has access to electricity.  

Olivier left Rwanda, his family and his four month old daughter for an epic business trip to this landlocked country above the Democratic Republic of Congo which is well known for its considerable resources of timber and diamonds.

BBOXX's Director of Sales and Distribution, Olivier Udahemuka, is showing the BB5 to the Minster of Energy in the Central African Republic.
As part of his trip he developed a strong support and contact network among the local government which has put a high priority on electrification projects. BBOXX has sent 100 BB5s from its factory in Kigali to ESD in Bangui so that they can carry out the required market research before making an order of 3,000 units within the coming six months. 

Olivier and ESD had a successful meeting with the Minister of Trade at the end of which we received VAT and import duty exemption on our solar products for the coming three years. Olivier has now returned to Rwanda where he is handling the sales, distribution and after-sale services of our products in and around Kigali.
Olivier Udahemuka negociating with the Minister of Trade and Business to get VAT and import duty exemption for BBOXX's solar products in Central Africa.