About BGFA

Beyond the Grid Fund For Africa

Bringing clean, affordable, off-grid energy access to millions

Call for Proposals in Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Zambia

BGFA has completed the Pre-Qualification stage of its Call for Proposals 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.

The Pre-Qualification stage closed on 30 October 2020 for submission of Pre-Qualification applications. The review of applications, is expected to be completed by the end of November 2020.

The planned country programme for Mozambique has been postponed and will form part of a separate, subsequent Call for Proposals.


Pre-Qualification Guidelines

The energy access gap

Just under 1 billion people worldwide still lack access to electricity, one of the main preconditions to prosperity growth.

Despite increasingly ambitious efforts under the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve universal electrification by 2030, it is estimated that by that time nearly 600,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa alone will still not have access to electricity, and many more will still lack access to clean cooking. Many of these people live in rural and peri-urban areas that have not been reached by the central electricity grid, and where, due to the geography and/or widely dispersed populations, expansion of the grid would be too costly and technically difficult.

Electrification beyond the grid

Off-grid energy solutions such as mini-grids and solar home systems offer an affordable, reliable, quick-to-deploy alternative to grid extension.

An increasing number of companies in Sub-Saharan Africa already offer solutions that employ innovative consumer payment schemes, often via mobile money, to ensure that the daily cost of clean energy is lower than that of candles and other traditional energy sources. However, despite great demand, the markets in which these companies operate are still viewed as risky by investors, and even successful companies face great difficulties accessing finance to scale up their businesses.

BGFA aims to help businesses overcome these challenges with the goal to contribute to inclusive and sustainable development in its focus countries, to further climate change mitigation and adaptation, energy access, gender equality and other relevant Sustainable Development Goals.

Building on success

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa builds on the success of the pilot programme Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia.

The BGFZ programme (www.bgfz.org) has connected 150,000 households (780,000 people) in two years and won a 2019 Ashden Award and a 2019 UN Global Climate Action Award.

Find out more about the impacts of the BGFZ programme:

BGFZ Impact

What’s next

The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) programme in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mozambique, and Zambia aims to build markets for off-grid energy to bring access to clean, affordable off-grid energy to at least 5 million people by 2025.

BGFA has launched its first Call for Proposals (BGFA1) inviting interested off-grid energy service providers to compete for a number of funding windows. The aim of BGFA1 is to stimulate the creation of new sustainable business models which incentivise and accelerate the private sector to offer affordable and clean off-grid energy access at scale in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia.

Find out more about the current call in the Pre-Qualification Guidelines.

The planned country programme for Mozambique has been postponed and will form part of a separate, subsequent Call for Proposals.

The programme has been given the green light to expand into Uganda. The Embassy of Sweden in Kampala expects, subject to a successful market scoping and final donor decision, to allocate results-based capital investment into market expansion made by private sector entities selected by competition in 2021. As with the other BGFA country windows, the programme will also seek to provide local institutional capacity building. BGFA in Uganda will commence with a comprehensive market scoping phase later in 2020 reaching out to interested stakeholders.

BGFA Countries
The BGFA approach

The Three Pillars

The BGFA approach rests on three pillars:
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Call for Proposals

The backbone of the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa approach is an innovative financing mechanism that offers incentives to companies to close the ‘viability gap’, on a per-connection basis, of the rollout and scaling up of clean energy services in areas that would otherwise not represent viable markets.

Funding is made available under Call for Proposals. The first BGFA Call for Proposals is now open, please see our Pre-Qualification Guidelines for more information.

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Platform for Market Change

When fully established, BGFA will work with a range of stakeholders in each of the target countries to improve local market conditions through a combination of capacity building and technical assistance to local energy authorities, general stakeholder outreach and market intelligence development. During the pilot phase in Zambia, this work was formalised under BGFZ as a national Off-Grid Energy Task Force, which is embedded in and led by the Ministry of Energy together with the Office of the Vice President, with REEEP providing secretariat services. Since its launch in April 2018, this Task Force has facilitated, among other things, the implementation of a VAT exemption for LED lights, the drafting of a new national mini-grid policy and the initiation of discussions to improve the affordability of off-grid energy solutions.

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Market Information and Analytics

With its aim to reach at least 5 million people in four African countries in the next five years, BGFA has the potential to generate very valuable market intelligence, including data on customer willingness and ability to pay. To capture this intelligence, BGFA will combine detailed market analysis with real-time data on deployment of energy service subscriptions.

Once the expanded programme is under implementation, the collected information will be shared with stakeholders through the Platforms for Market Change, in order to inform investment decisions and policymaking. The data will be gathered and analysed through the custom-built Energy Data and Intelligence System for Off-Grid Networks (EDISON), which will be connected to the selected energy provider companies’ internal systems and provide live information on energy service subscriptions sold, payments, upgrades and warranty events, among other data points. This will allow for the verification of the results of BGFA in real time, and access to this data can also help to de-risk future investments in off-grid energy markets and guide policymaking in the countries concerned. The progress and impacts of the ongoing pilot programme in Zambia can today be followed live on EDISON’s public dashboard (edison.bgfz.org).

Contact us

If you have any questions, please get in touch with the team at Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa.


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