USAID invites applications for funding off-grid solar projects in Africa

22 Feb 2017, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria

Summary

USAID said it will award a $4 million purse to multiple innovative, off-grid solar businesses working in Africa.

Off-grid solar power

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a new funding opportunity designed to increase private-sector investment in the household solar market. The funding window is designed under the Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge for Development of the USAID.

The U.S. government agency said it will award a $4 million purse to multiple innovative, off-grid solar businesses working in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Estimated grant awards would range from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

Eligible businesses for the grants are early stage or early-growth stage companies that can demonstrate a 2:1 private investor match. That is, applicants must demonstrate a financial commitment from a private investor (equity or debt) that is at least twice the funding requested from USAID. For instance, if an investor commits $1 million in funding, USAID could award $500,000. However, preference will be given to higher ratios of demonstrated investor commitment to the requested funding.

USAID said it designed the funding opportunity specifically to address the barrier many off-grid entrepreneurs face in terms of accessing capital.

An off-grid solar market report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Lighting Global, a joint initiative of IFC and the World Bank, shows that off-grid solar is advancing rapidly beyond just lighting and phone charging. Research has shown that pay-as-you-go off-grid solar companies alone could serve up to 30 million households in off-grid markets by 2020.

Renewable energy sources are now ripe for investors and USAID aims to catalyze investment across the household solar value chain in SSA with the new funding.

Interested applicants are expected to send concept papers to the Scaling Off-Grid Energy team between February 2017 and April 30, 2017. Eligible enterprises must have operations in one or more markets across sub-Saharan Africa. Applicants should also be developing and scaling innovative solutions that will have broad reach across the region's household solar market with the potential for high market impact.

The Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge for Development is a global partnership between the USAID, Power Africa, the U.K. Department for International Development, and the Shell Foundation.


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