Ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy

Are you looking to boost your digital innovation project in the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa? Are you involved in energy transition projects in this region? The Digital Energy Challenge is for you.

The Digital Energy Facility is launching the Digital Energy Challenge, which will run for four years with an annual Call for Projects. The objective of the Challenge is to support the development of innovative solutions for energy access, the integration of renewable energy and utility performance improvement.

The 2021 Call for Projects will reward 5-8 start-ups every year, for innovative digital projects that aim to increase energy access and improve power grid performance. The 2021 Call for Projects focuses on sub-Saharan Africa.

Eligibility criteria: The start-ups must meet the following criteria:

  • Created less than 10 years ago
  • Be in the pre-see/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
  • Based in one of the Sub-Sahara African countries (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Democratic Republic, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.)

Finally, the start-up’s project must meet one of the three above-mentioned themes and be:

  • 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

What’s in it for your start-up: for every annual Call for Projects, the 5-8 winning start-ups will each benefit from:

  • A grant of €70K (maximum) to contribute to costs for equipment, software, training and recruitment
  • The possibility to request technical assistance (awarded on a case-by-case basis), which could include project management support, strategic and technical expertise, and accounting/reporting assistance

In addition, start-ups and utility partnership winners can take advantage of:

  • A joint boot camp run by cross-sectorial experts, which will support project implementation, provide sectorial insights, foster synergies between project winners and encourage best-practice sharing
  • Widespread communication campaigns piloted by AFD during the selection phase, award ceremony, bootcamp and for a period of time after these events.

Live information webinar: 28th April 2021 at 11:30am  CET (you will receive an invitation after downloading the Application Pack, or you can  register directly here

Deadline for submission: 30th June 2021 23:59 CET

Announcement of results: September-October 2021


June 30, 2021
Program dates Sep 1 - Oct 31, 2021
Organizer AFD
Website Visit website
Targets Sub-Saharan Africa
Sectors Electric utilities
SDG (1)
7. Affordable and Clean Energy