How to Apply AFD Digital Energy Challenge 2024 for Africa Start -Ups (Get up to 70,000€ Prize)

How to Apply AFD Digital Energy Challenge 2024 for Africa Start -Ups

How to Apply AFD Digital Energy Challenge 2024 for Africa Start -Ups | The Digital Energy Challenge and its annual call for projects were launched in 2021 by the Digital Energy Facility, a programme funded by the European Union and implemented by Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

The Digital Energy Facility launched the Digital Energy Challenge in 2021 for a four-year term, with an annual call for projects.

The purpose of the Challenge is to support the development of innovative solutions likely to promote better access to energy, facilitate the integration of renewable energies and improve the performance of energy operators.

Projects must have a core element of digital technology (telecom, computer or cloud-based). They must be innovative, either intrinsically or in relation to the local market or country. Finally, projects must be local with project management activities in the country where the project is based.

The digital revolution is key to tackling energy access issues in developing countries. In Africa alone, 600 million people, 1 out of 2 people in sub-Saharan Africa, do not have access to electricity. Innovative technologies and new business models are making significant progress in energy access with on-grid and off-grid solutions in urban and rural areas.

Contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, the AFD implemented the Digital Energy Facility, a programme co-financed by the European Union, with the participation of ADEME, to support the digitization and modernization of the energy sector.

For the two categories, Start-ups and Utilities, the project scope must address one of three themes:
  • Universal electricity access and mini-grids
  • Efficient grid management
  • Resilience and decarbonization of power systems

Benefits for challenge winners

Each year the Challenge will award 2 to 3 utility and technology/service provider partnership projects and 5 to 8 start-up projects. An annual budget of €1.8 M will enable grant-based funding, technical assistance and strategic guidance.

Projects must have a core element of digital technology (telecom, computer or cloud-based). They must be innovative, either intrinsically or in relation to the local market or country. Finally, projects must be local with project management activities in the country where the project is based.

Challenge winners can benefit from:

  • A financial contribution in the form of a grant for equipment and software purchases, training, recruitment costs for start-ups, and product/service purchase costs linked to technology/service providers for utilities

  • Technical assistance for all utilities and certain start-ups on a case-by-case basis, such as project management support, strategic and technical expertise, and accounting/reporting assistance

  • A bootcamp run by cross-sectorial experts to support project implementation, foster synergies between project winners and share best practices

  • Increased visibility for the project through widespread social media communication campaigns piloted by AFD during the selection phase, award ceremony, bootcamp and for a period of time after these events

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Eligibility criteria for Start-ups

The Start-up must meet the following criteria:

  • Created less than 10 years ago
  • Be in the pre-seed/early-stage financing phase i.e. less than €1M funding raised
  • Annual turnover of less than €1M
  • Employ between 1 and 99 people full-time.

NGOs can apply under the Start-up category if the project meets one of the additional following criteria:

  • The project is set up as a company as a branch of the NGO
  • The project has a dedicated team and business plan, and clearly targets business sustainability/profitability (e.g. plans to spin off as an independent entity).

Finally the Start-up’s project must adhere to one of the three above-mentioned themes and NGOs can apply under the Start-up category if the project meets one of the additional following criteria:

  • Digital i.e. based on a telecom, computer or cloud-based technology
  • Innovative, either intrinsically or compared to the local market
  • Local i.e. headquartered or with project management activities in the country of the project

Eligibility criteria for utilities

The project owner must be an African public power utility or organisation. This definition includes public ISO (Independent System Operators), private companies under a public service concession, power pools, regional organisations, energy regulators and rural electrification authorities.

The project owner must be in a partnership with a technology/service provider and meet the following criteria:

  • Less than 15 years existence and have already developed an innovative solution to be tested with the Challenge

  • National or international registered company

  • More than 5 employees

  • Annual turnover of less than €50M

  • Have already entered into business relations with an African utility, resulting in the signature – either effective or imminent – of a memorandum of understanding.

The collaborative project must have digital technology as a core element (telecom, computer or cloud-based technology); be innovative either intrinsically or in relation to the local market/country; and be local i.e. have project management activities in the country where the project is based.

Eligible countries

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Democratic Republic, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

How to Apply AFD Digital Energy Challenge 2024 for Africa Start -Ups

For more information on each category and to apply, visit:

The Digital Energy Challenge for Start-ups

The Digital Energy Challenge for Utilities

Download the Challenge brochure

Deadline for submission of applications

15th May 2024 – 23h59 CET

How to Apply AFD Digital Energy Challenge 2024 for Africa Start -Ups (Get up to 70,000€ Prize)

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