Digital Energy Challenge

Annual Call for Projects - Start-ups

Each year, the Digital Energy Challenge for start-ups rewards 5 to 8 Start-ups developing innovative digital projects aimed at improving energy access and grid services in Africa.
The Challenge runs from 2021 to 2024 and is part of the Digital Energy Facility program.


Discover the 2023 edition and the winning projects here.

Key dates

4th March 2024

Launch of the Call for Projects

19th March 2024

Watch the webinar's replays:

15th May 2024 - 23h59 CET

Deadline for submission of applications

Autumn 2024

Notification of award winners and bootcamp

The three themes for the 2024 call for projects are:
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Universal electricity access and mini-grids

Digital innovations in the field of mini-grids to maximize their efficiency and impact: energy management systems for the optimal use of clean and renewable energy; software and hardware technologies for an efficient integration of productive use assets; storage systems and algorithms minimizing the use of fossil fuel generators; tools to facilitate interconnections with the main grid and with other mini-grids; systems and algorithms for building-up nanogrids; geospatial data analytics for power demand evaluation and/or credit risk assessment.

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Efficient grid management

Digital services and products ensuring a proper operation of the power grid, with a focus on: information availability and communication systems; streamlining Business-As-Usual grid operational management practices of the power system; increased power availability and service quality. 

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Resilience and decarbonation of power systems

Digital-based solutions enabling the development of a greener and more resilient power infrastructure (encompassing generation systems as well as the grid): additional renewable capacity; grid stability and flexibility; energy savings at the end-user level (Commercial & Industrial as well as households). 

Benefits for Challenge winners

For every annual Call for Projects, the 5 to 8 winning start-ups will each benefit from:
  • Financial support of up to €150K including: Grant funding to contribute to costs for equipment, software, training and recruitment ; Technical assistance (awarded on a case-by-case basis), which could include project management support, strategic and technical expertise, and accounting/reporting assistance,
  • A joint boot camp run by cross-sectorial experts, to support project implementation, provide sectorial insights, foster synergies between project winners and encourage best-practice sharing,
  • Finally the startups's project widespread communication campaigns piloted by AFD during the selection phase, award ceremony, bootcamp and for a period of time after these events.

How to apply?

Download the application pack for Start-ups (email address required)

You can watch the information webinar's replays:

Complete the application form and prepare the required documents

Submit your project by 15th May 2024 23:59 CET

Eligibility criteria for Start-ups

The Start-up must meet the following criteria:

  • Created less than 10 years ago
  • Be in the pre-seed/early-stage financing phase i.e. less than €1M funding raised
  • Annual turnover of less than €1M
  • Employ between 1 and 99 people full-time.

NGOs can apply under the Start-up category if the project meets one of the additional following criteria:

  • The project is set up as a company as a branch of the NGO
  • The project has a dedicated team and business plan, and clearly targets business sustainability/profitability (e.g. plans to spin off as an independent entity).

Finally the Start-up’s project must adhere to one of the three above-mentioned themes and NGOs can apply under the Start-up category if the project meets one of the additional following criteria:

  • Digital i.e. based on a telecom, computer or cloud-based technology 
  • Innovative, either intrinsically or compared to the local market
  • Local i.e. headquartered or with project management activities in the country of the project
🌍 Eligible countries


Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Democratic Republic, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Application support

For more information:

Consult the FAQ which will be updated regularly 
Join the Challenge mailing list and ask any questions by contacting us

Download the Challenge brochure


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