The African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) has launched a US$1.2 million (Kshs. 132 million) Innovation Fund to unlock the potential of renewable energy that will create new business opportunities in Africa.
The funds targets innovators in the green energy space from Kenya, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
AECF, chief executive Victoria Sabula, says the fund will support solutions that reduce the negative impacts associated with the use of traditional cooking options at the household and institutional levels, build climate change resilience among communities and support productive uses such as water pumping, agro-processing, cooling, and refrigeration services.
“The Innovation Fund is key to enhancing large scale transformation within local communities. Investing in affordable and accessible renewable energy solutions can create jobs, grow economies, and build more sustainable livelihoods. Through the fund, we hope to unearth new ways that renewable technology – be it domestic, communal, or commercial – can be used to generate income and create jobs,” said Sabula.
Applicants are required to demonstrate how their proposed innovations will transform livelihoods of low-income households through creation of jobs and diversification of livelihoods.
The funds aligns to the goal number seven of the Sustainable Development Goals which targets to ensure universal access to reliable and sustainable energy by the end of the decade.
“With half of the African continent without access to electricity, and two-thirds lacking access to clean cooking solutions, additional investment is needed to drive innovation and accelerate the uptake of modern energy,” Sabula added.
The Innovation Fund builds on AECF’s Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies (REACT) initiative, which was launched to support the private sector develop and expand its clean energy technologies to Africa’s rural communities.
The Fund will invest in technologies that meet market needs as well as accelerating the development of existing solutions to better serve African communities and not technologies in the prototype stage.
The deadline for the applications is set for 29th April 2021.