The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa (BGFA) is opening the Pre-Qualification stage of its first Call for Proposals (BGFA1) today, 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 contract size is expected to be EUR 1 – 4 million, depending on the target country and individual needs.
“We are pleased to launch the first stage of this first Call for Proposals under the planned expansion of the BGFA programme into Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia. The market scoping confirmed that BGFA funding is bridging a critical financing gap for off-grid energy companies to engage in bringing access to energy to customers living in non-urban areas in these three countries. We anticipate active participation in the call and encourage interested energy companies to register on the online system to learn more and start preparing their applications,” commented Helle Lindegaard, Vice President, Head of the BGFA Unit at NEFCO (the Facility Manager).
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.
The planned country programme for Mozambique has been postponed and will form part of a separate, subsequent Call for Proposals.
A two-stage application process
The BGFA1 application process is divided into two stages: a Pre-Qualification stage and a Final Application stage. The purpose of the Pre-Qualification stage is to check whether interested off-grid energy companies meet BGFA1 key eligibility criteria and minimum technical and financial capacity requirements.
During the Pre-Qualification stage, applicants are merely asked to submit a limited amount of information and documentation to reduce their time and cost to prepare the application. Only applicants passing the Pre-Qualification stage will be invited to take part in the Final Application stage. During the Final Application stage, applicants will be required to submit a full project proposal, including a detailed business plan, financial model(s) and comprehensive supporting documentation.
The Pre-Qualification stage is open for applications through the SmartME intake system. The application forms in the system will be open from 14:00 Helsinki time (UTC +3) on 15 September. The platform will close on 30 October 2020 for submission of Pre-Qualification applications. The Pre-Qualification stage, including a review of applications, is expected to be completed by the end of November 2020.
Applicants are requested to send any questions regarding the call and application process through the SmartME intake system at the latest by 5 October 2020. Answers will be published in a generic form and made available to all registered Applicants in the SmartME intake system on 13 October 2020.
The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa facility is established and managed by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO). 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), 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. Germany, through its development bank KfW, will join the Country Programme for Zambia (pending final approval), with the focus on mini-grids. Power Africa, an initiative administered by USAID , is providing an in-kind technical assistance contribution.
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.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is the Swedish government agency for development cooperation. Sida strives to reduce world poverty by allocating resources and knowledge with the goal of making a difference for people in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. To achieve this, Sida collaborates with actors from civil society and universities as well as the public and private sectors. Sida’s activities are funded through Swedish tax revenue. See also www.sida.se
Photo: Jason Mulikita