Clean and affordable off-grid energy
Over 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live today without access to electricity. For most of these people, connection to the grid is not likely to happen for decades, or longer. The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) aims to reduce this gap by stimulating and accelerating the emergency of new business models to incentivise the private sector to offer affordable and clean energy access at scale to people living in rural and peri-urban areas. The programme builds on the positive experiences of the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia (BGFZ), which Sweden commenced in 2016 and which is successfully implemented by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP).
Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa forms part of the ‘Power Africa’ initiative launched by former President Barack Obama and contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal 7 as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate. The planned period of implementation is in total six years. The programme aims to benefit 5 to 15 million rural and peri-urban people in the participating countries.
Contributors and available funding
Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa is funded by Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). NEFCO is managing the facility and the programme is implemented in cooperation with REEEP.
Currently the Pre-Qualification stage of the first Call for Proposal (BGFA1) is ongoing for Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia. The SmartME online tool available at beyondthegrid.africa was closed for new applications on 30 October. Applicants successfully passing the Pre-Qualification stage will be notified by early December 2020 and asked to submit a full proposal tentatively by the end of January 2021. Guidelines for the Final Application stage are scheduled to be published during early December 2020.
BGFA1 aims to incentivise off-grid energy companies to accelerate the establishment of new, long-term sustainable energy service subscriptions at scale. In total, some EUR 30 million is offered to qualified, private off-grid energy service providers under three different Country Programmes, with funding opportunities split into a number of Funding Windows and Funding Lots. The contract size is expected to be EUR 1 – 4 million, depending on the target country and individual needs. The planned country programme for Mozambique has been postponed and will form part of a separate, subsequent Call for Proposals.
The plan is to have some 15 contracts signed by May 2021, with project implementation starting in August 2021. Awarded funds will be disbursed during a four-year period. By 2025, it is expected that up to 700,000 off-grid long-term sustainable energy service subscriptions will have been entered into with customers, bringing clean and affordable energy to more than 3.5 million people in peri-urban and rural areas.
Sweden is contributing an initial SEK 500 million (approx. EUR 48 million) to this first expansion into Burkina Faso and Liberia, the second phase in Zambia and later also Mozambique. A further expansion to Uganda is also being planned, with an initial SEK 130 million (EUR 11.8 million) funding from the Embassy of Sweden in Kampala, subject to a successful market scoping and final donor decision.
Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID, is providing a considerable in-kind technical assistance contribution. Several other donors have also shown interest in joining the programme. If your institution or organisation is interested in contributing as a donor or supporter to the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa, please contact us.
Contributors to the BGFA