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The hunt for Africa’s bright minds in clean energy solutions is on. The Digital Energy Facility, launched in 2021, has opened applications for the 2024 edition of its Digital Energy Challenge. This annual competition awards promising start-ups developing innovative digital technologies that can revolutionize energy access, grid management, and decarbonization across Africa.

The Digital Energy Challenge offers a platform for early-stage ventures to gain recognition, connect with potential investors, and make a real-world impact.  

This year’s challenge focuses on three critical areas:

  • Universal electricity access and mini-grids: Innovative digital solutions to improve efficiency, optimize clean energy use, and facilitate the integration of productive use assets in mini-grids.
  • Efficient grid management: Digital tools and services that ensure the smooth operation of power grids, enhance information sharing, and streamline business practices.
  • Resilience and decarbonization of power systems: Digital-based solutions that promote a greener and more reliable power infrastructure, including additional renewable energy capacity, grid stability improvements, and energy savings.

Up to eight winning startups are chosen annually to receive a comprehensive support package worth €150,000. This includes:

  • Financial backing: Grant funding to ease the burden of equipment, software, training, and recruitment costs.
  • Expert guidance: Technical assistance and mentorship opportunities from seasoned professionals to help them scale their innovations.
  • Collaborative bootcamp: A joint program led by cross-sectorial experts to support project implementation, provide valuable industry insights, foster collaboration among winners, and encourage the sharing of best practices.
  • Widespread exposure: AFD will spearhead communication campaigns to promote the winning startups’ projects during the selection phase, award ceremony, bootcamp, and beyond.

To be eligible for this for this challenge startups must be young and dynamic companies founded within the past decade. They should be in the early stages of growth, having secured less than €1 million in funding and generating annual revenue under €1 million.

Furthermore, the project itself should align with at least one of the program’s core themes:

  • Digital: Utilizing innovative technologies like telecom, computer, or cloud-based solutions.
  • Innovative: Intrinsically groundbreaking or a significant leap forward compared to existing solutions in the local market.
  • Local: Headquartered or actively managing the project within the target country, fostering a strong local presence.

The application is launched on March 4 and the final day of the Application deadline is on May 15, 2024, while the Award Notification and Bootcamp will be revealed in Autumn of 2024.

Entrepreneurs across Africa with digital solutions for the energy sector are encouraged to apply.

For more information and to apply, visit the Digital Energy Challenge website

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Etenat holds a degree in Journalism and her master's in Public Relations. Previously, she served as a university lecturer and has five years of experience in communications, media, digital marketing, and consulting.