$2 Million Challenge Supports Off-Grid Energy to Power Africa

President Obama demonstrates the “Soccket Ball,” which uses kinetic energy to provide power to charge a mobile phone or power a light, during an event to promote energy innovation held at the Ubungo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2.
President Obama demonstrates the “Soccket Ball,” which uses kinetic energy to provide power to charge a mobile phone or power a light, during an event to promote energy innovation held at the Ubungo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2.

Washington,
July 8, 2013

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is teaming up with General Electric Africa to launch the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge, USADF and GE announced July 2.

The Power Africa Challenge is a three-year, $2 million challenge that will award 20 or more grants of up to $100,000 each to African organizations providing off-grid solutions that deploy renewable resources and power economic activities.

The challenge will benefit rural or urban populations currently underserved by existing utility companies, USADF and GE said. USADF is a public corporation in the U.S. federal government that funds African enterprises, cooperatives and community-based organizations to build capacity and expand economic activities.

In its own news release, GE Africa said the Power Africa Challenge will also promote innovative solutions that further develop, scale up or extend the use of proven technologies for off-grid energy. GE noted that African-owned and -operated businesses and organizations that are developing their own technologies, or acquiring and installing technology developed elsewhere, are eligible to apply.

U.S. government agencies and private corporations are working in concert with Power Africa, the White House–led initiative, to drive growth by increasing access to reliable, affordable and sustainable power and by helping to ensure responsible, transparent and effective management of energy resources, GE Africa said.

USADF and GE will support initiatives that:

• Provide off-grid energy to rural or urban regions currently lacking energy access.

• Expand markets, test innovations and leverage financing with the goal of increasing the delivery of off-grid energy to marginalized populations.

• Introduce innovative payment or collection methods that can extend the reach of power delivery.

GE Africa is committed to supporting Africa’s efforts to solve the challenge of insufficient and inconsistent power supply, said GE Africa President and Chief Executive Jay Ireland. He noted that the Power Africa Challenge will tap into expertise on how Africa’s challenges on power can best be solved from an African perspective.

“We bring in the technology, but the indigenous people on the ground also have valuable insights on what works best for Africa and innovative solutions to meet the power needs of the continent,” Ireland said.

USADF operates in 17 countries with more than 350 project grants, benefiting more than a million and a half Africans. It is the only U.S. agency exclusively centered on an African-led, grass-roots development model to encourage shared prosperity.

For more information on applying to the challenge, contact OffGridChallenge@usadf.gov.