The United States Africa Development Foundation (USADF) and General Electric have elected to provide grants up to the tune of $100,000 each in awards to 20 innovative energy solutions, in support of the expansion of off-grid rural electrification access in Nigeria and Kenya within three years.

Tagged the ‘USADF/GE power Africa off-grid energy challenge,’ the project which total award portfolio is $2 million and ensconced within US President Barack Obama’s power Africa initiative will seek to expand existing and innovative rural off-grid power solutions to meet the electricity demands of underserved communities in both countries.

It is expected to take in entries and proposals from local private small holding power firms and provide grants for developing or expanding the use of proven off-grid electricity technologies from eventual awardees to the benefits of rural communities and population; as much as 10 awards per year will be given out in the challenge with both Nigeria and Kenya getting about three apiece.

President of GE in Nigeria, Dr. Lazarus Angbazo, and Economic Advisor at the US embassy in Nigeria, Douglas Climan, stated this at a media briefing Tuesday in Abuja to announce the contest that the project was aimed at supporting such off-grid innovations that have potential to transform the operations of rural economies in both countries.

They explained that the project has placed emphasis on the delivery of such off-grid power for productive or commercial activities including agricultural production and processing, off-farm businesses and other forms of commercial enterprises, adding that it hopes to scale up use of small technologies to light up rural economies.

Specifically, Angbazo said: “The off-grid energy challenge is a $2 million initiative to promote innovative off-grid energy solutions developed by African-owned and operated businesses.

It will award 20 or more grants of up to $100,000 each to innovators that further develop, scale-up or extend the use of proven technologies for off-grid energy. This initiative rewards innovation but the monetary reward should be viewed beyond the value to the much deeper motivation which is to positively touch lives of eventual beneficiaries of the off-grid solutions in communities where they are needed.”

He noted that it was part of its drive to encourage small and medium enterprises in Nigeria’s power sector.

Climan on his part stressed that the initiative rides on the back of Obama’s power Africa initiative which aims at doubling generated power across the continent with a $9 billion grant.

He further explained that the expertise to generally address Nigeria’s power supply challenges can best be assessed locally, adding: “Essentially, we are looking for concepts that have the potential to transform the operations of rural enterprises, businesses and communities currently without electricity; creative and innovative solutions will be given higher consideration.”


Information from This Day was used in this report.