The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) received 84 applications for the Pre-Qualification stage under its first Call for Proposals (BGFA1) in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia. Out of these, 79 applications have passed the initial completeness check and are now about to enter the evaluation and scoring process done by independent evaluators. Applicants that successfully pass the Pre-Qualification stage will be invited to the Final Application stage in early December. Once completed, this first financing round is expected to offer a total of EUR 30 million in results-based financing to a number of private off-grid energy service providers. The target is to generate up to 700,000 new service subscriptions and provide clean and affordable energy to more than 3.5 million people in peri-urban and rural areas in these three countries.
In September 2020, BGFA opened the Pre-Qualification phase for BGFA1 inviting off-grid energy companies to compete for results-based funding to bring clean, modern and affordable energy to customers in peri-urban and rural areas of Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia. 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 funding is provided by Sweden and Germany (for Zambia only). The contract size per applicant is expected to be EUR 1 – 4 million, depending on the target country and individual needs.
Ash Sharma, Head of BGFA at NEFCO, stated “We are very pleased with the strong level of interest shown by applicants at this initial stage. It demonstrates there is a strong demand for results-based financing (RBF) in delivering much-needed energy access in Africa, particularly in these testing times of COVID-19. Based on previous experience in Zambia and the leveraging ratio of that programme, this amount of funding is likely to mobilise over three times the RBF amount in additional finance, principally from the private sector, to support the achievement of the SDG7 goal in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
BGFA1 closed for Pre-Qualification submissions on 30 October 2020 and received 84 applications of which 79 passed the initial, internal completeness check.
The 79 applications are distributed among the three Country Programmes and Funding Lots as follows:
Figure 1: Applications by number
SHS: Standalone solar home system
Zambia SHS includes applications received both under the Launch to Scale and Direct to Scale Funding Windows. See BGFA Pre-Qualification Guidelines for further information.
The strongest demand was in Zambia, corresponding to the largest amount of available funding, followed by Liberia and Burkina Faso:
Figure 2: Applications by value
The applications are now about to enter the process of evaluation and scoring of submitted concept notes by independent evaluators. Successful applicants will be invited in early December 2020 to submit full project proposals, including a business plan for assessment under the Final Application stage. Further information will be made available directly to the applicants and communicated at www.beyondthegrid.africa
The plan is to have 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.
BGFA is currently also preparing for further Calls for Proposals for Mozambique and Uganda planned to be launched in 2021.
The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa facility was established and is managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) [www.nefco.int/bgfa]. NEFCO is an international financial institution focused on environmental and climate investments. BGFA is designed and implemented in partnership with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) [www.reeep.org], an international multilateral partnership based in Vienna, Austria, working to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries.
The facility is funded by Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Swedish embassies in the target countries. Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID www.usaid.gov/powerafrica, is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution. Germany, through its development bank KfW www.kfw.de, will join the Country Programme for Zambia (pending final approval), with the focus on Mini-grids.
BGFA supports, in particular, the objective of Sustainable Development Goal number 7, which aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, modern energy for all by 2030, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change and host country priorities regarding Goal number 13 to take urgent action to combat climate change.
For further information
Ash Sharma, Head of BGFA, NEFCO
Ash.email@example.com, M: +358 50 471 2850
Lia Oker-Blom, Communications Officer, NEFCO
firstname.lastname@example.org, M: +358 50 325 6610
Photo: Jason Mulikita