FEATURED: Inside BBOXX Rwanda’s modern and affordable cooking experience

BBOXX shop in Remera-Kigali. / Photos by Craish Bahizi

BBOXX Rwanda last week unveiled a new initiative that will tackle the issue of air pollution and environmental degradation, and at the same time, cut the time and hardships one endures to prepare a meal.

BBOXX has become the first company to integrate pay-as-you-go solar energy services with pay-as-you-go cooking solutions.

This is a new innovation in the country where one can get a gas cylinder for only Rwf 13,500 as down payment, and also pay Rwf 9, 000 for six subsequent months in order to own the cooker permanently. If you already have a cooker, you only pay for the gas cylinder and just keep refilling it.  

Laurent Van Houcke the Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer at BBOXX with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Engineer Patricie Uwase cutting the ribbon to open the BBOXX shop in Remera-Kigali

With the pay-as-you-go cooking solutions, one purchases the gas cylinder and the company is responsible for delivery, with installation free of charge for the client.

Also, one is able to buy any amount of gas, for as little as Rwf 500, using Mobile Money.

In case the gas is about to get used up, BBOXX is notified and replenishment is made immediately.

Part of the staff of BBOXX explaining to members of the public how to operate the new cooking devices that require to pay for the amount you can only afford

This is one of the many ways that the environment will be protected and money saved as there will be no more need for charcoal or firewood.

Speaking at the launch of the new product dubbed ‘BBOXX Cook’, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Engineer Patricie Uwase, noted that she was delighted by this innovation as it is in support of the government’s plans to reduce the dependence of wood as a source of energy.

“As you all know, the dependence of wood as a source of energy is still at a high rate, 79.9%, as it was revealed by research, and the government’s strategy is to have this figure reduced by at least half in the next five years,’’ she said.

A group photo of BBOXX staff that attended the launch of BBOXX Cook last week in Remera

“That is why when we see other individuals or organizations such as BBOXX coming through to support us, we are delighted and pledge our full support as it is still in its initial stages, and this is when we come in and do what we can,” PS Uwase added.

Justus Mucyo, the Managing Director of BBOXX Rwanda, said the company launched its operations in Rwanda five years ago with a focus on providing access to electricity for rural households.

“After 80,000 successful connections, we have positioned ourselves as a next generation utility, and for that matter, we'll start to use our technology to address the issue of access to clean cooking, which three billion people lack worldwide, and Rwanda is no different. Use of charcoal and firewood are a major threat to the environment and this is where BBOXX comes in, and the fact that payment is going to be in installments, I am optimistic that everyone will be able to afford this new product on the market,” he said.

Mucyo added that BBOXX has many activities going on in the rural areas but because urban dwellers use gas the most, they are going to start this in the city centres as they extend deeper into the villages.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Engineer Patricie Uwase giving her remarks.

80,000 people all over the country have been able to receive lighting through BBOXX, and Mucyo noted that it is the only company that has been able to establish a presence in all districts all over the country.

To continue strengthening the company’s presence on the solar market, BBOXX also revealed, in exclusivity, a new service they will release at the end of August—online payments for electricity from anywhere in the world. Payments will be done using a credit/debit card, with 0 transfer fees and discounts of up to USD 200 for upfront sales.

Ulrich Reinecker, BBOXX Group Director of Commercial and Innovation commented; “We know that many Rwandans send money back home, either from abroad or from Kigali. With BBOXX Online Payments we want to help them invest a part of this money in solar electricity, thus contributing to Rwanda’s goal of 100% electrification by 2024.”

Laurent Van Houcke, the co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of the firm, noted that BBOXX is currently working in 14 African countries, with over 1,000,000 households electrified over the last 10 years.

He says that there has been a lot to learn from BBOXX’s work in Rwanda, adding that without full government support, they would not have been able to get where they have reached.

“Since these are new technologies, and as we know that in many countries, to bring such types of technologies to mass market, the government needs to push it hard as well on the communication because the private sector alone can’t do much without the support from the government and other stakeholders,” Houcke concluded.