17 December 2020 - Bboxx, a next generation utility, and EDF, a global leader in low-carbon energies, are expanding access to solar-powered irrigation systems for thousands of farmers. With the launch of this new business line, Bboxx and EDF are stepping up the pace of their cooperation launched in 2018 with the creation of a joint-venture, Bboxx EDF Togo. The latter is committed to making sustainable irrigation more accessible for underserved communities in Togo, increasing agricultural productivity, generating additional income, and improving economic opportunities.
As part of the partnership, the Government of Togo is providing a 50% subsidy to halve the cost of irrigation systems for 5,000 farmers. This is alongside tax exemptions on import duties and VAT on the water pumps, making the product more affordable for the end user – smallholder farmers in Togo. This builds on the “CIZO cheque” subsidy launched in 2019 by the Togolese Government, which made solar energy more affordable to help overcome energy poverty.
Supplied by solar irrigation provider, ARE Member SunCulture, EDF’s partner and affiliate in Kenya, Bboxx EDF Togo will be deploying the water pumps and arranging financing for customers. The Togolese market will benefit from the successful large-scale rollout of SunCulture's solution in East Africa. EDF and Bboxx bring forward their respective expertise in the deployment of off-grid solutions in various countries in Africa. Irrigation systems to be deployed in Togo will also benefit from EDF’s technical R&D expertise in the off-grid sector, where EDF will oversee its design choices and help to enhance product performance.
The water pumps will be integrated with Bboxx Pulse®, Bboxx’s comprehensive management platform using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, allowing for remote management and monitoring. The services will be provided on the same pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model used by Bboxx’s Solar Home Systems (SHSs).
This deal will improve farmers’ economic opportunities by increasing productivity by up to five times, while removing the need to travel long distances to bring back water. It will enable farmers to secure a harvest even during the dry season, with the possibility to grow higher value crops. It will also create additional production by increasing the area cultivated. This contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8 – decent work and economic growth.
As market leaders in Togo and joint venture partners since 2018, this latest announcement comes as Bboxx and EDF double down on scaling their operations. Working as part of the Togo Government’s national electrification “CIZO” programme, Bboxx EDF Togo already has a substantial footprint and network in the country. They have positively impacted over 120,000 citizens’ lives thanks to domestic off-grid solar kits offering access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy. Both partners are now committing to expand energy to an even larger part of Togo’s population, while also moving into other much-needed services, like sustainable agriculture.
Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and Co-Founder of Bboxx, commented: “Strengthening our partnership with EDF in Togo by expanding our energy services and moving into sustainable agriculture, is an exciting milestone in our joint venture. For farmers in rural Togo, this latest deal will be life-changing, improving productivity, household income and quality of life, while fostering economic development at scale and contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals."
“The Togolese Government’s subsidy is vital to accelerate this programme to thousands of farmers and make sustainable agriculture affordable for all. We are passionate about leveraging our pioneering technology to contribute to the green economic recovery. We are making energy and other vital services more accessible as we continue on our mission to unlock potential and transform lives.”
Xavier Rouland, EDF’s Off-Grid Department Director, commented: “After two years of growth in Togo in the field of solar kits, this new step is crucial for us since it will help boost the rural economy, offering farmers tools that increase their incomes while using more environmentally friendly solutions. We are very proud, with our partner Bboxx, and thanks to the political will of the Togolese authorities, to bring forward the solar powered irrigation know-how of SunCulture, EDF's Kenyan partner, as well as our experience with the off-grid market in West Africa."
"This operation is the embodiment of our ambition in the off-grid business: to create synergies between our various partners and companies in our different countries of operation, for the benefit of rural populations and the improvement of their economic and living conditions.”
Samir Ibrahim, CEO & Co-Founder of SunCulture, commented: “We are in a global food crisis, and this subsidy program is an important showcase of how innovative financing can play a leading role in addressing food insecurity across Africa. This partnership will be catalytic in promoting off-season and higher-value agriculture across Togo, and we’re certain that it will pave the way for other sub-Saharan African countries to mobilize resources to address food crises, improve livelihoods, and spur economic development. We are thrilled to be a contributing partner in Africa’s largest public/private partnership utilizing smart solar irrigation subsidies, and in doing so, ensuring that sustainable agriculture is both affordable and accessible to those who stand to gain the most."