Digital Energy Challenge For Utilities - Annual Call for Projects

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Digital Energy Challenge - 2023 Utilities

The Challenge runs from 2021 to 2024 and is part of the Digital Energy Facility program. Discover the 2022 edition here and the winning projects here

The three themes for the 2023 call for projects are:

Services GridUniversal 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.


Innovative Clean Energy SMEsEfficient 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.


Innovative Digital SolutionResilience 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).




1st March 2023 - Opening of the Call for Projects 
15th May 2023 23:59 CET - Application deadline
Autumn 2023 - Notification of award winners and bootcamp

Who can apply?

The 2023 Challenge for Utilities is open to projects owned by African public power utilities (including public Independent System Operators, private companies under a public service concession, power pools, regional organisations, energy regulators and rural electrification authorities) in a partnership with an innovative technology/service provider. Candidates can request support to identify a partner when downloading the application pack. 


Benefits for Challenge winners

For every annual Call for Projects, 2 to 3 winning utility partnerships will each benefit from:

  • Financial support of up to €500K including: a grant to contribute to costs for equipment, software, products or services supplied by the innovative technology or service provider and training; technical assistance for project management support or strategic and technical expertise.
  • 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.
  • Widespread communication campaigns piloted by AFD during the selection phase, award ceremony, bootcamp and for a period of time after these events.

Eligibility Criteria for utilities

The project owner must be an African public power utility or organisation. This definition includes public ISO (Independent System Operators), private companies under a public service concession, power pools, regional organisations, energy regulators and rural electrification authorities.

The project owner must be in a partnership with a technology/service provider which must meet the following criteria:

  • Less than 15 years existence and have already developed an innovative solution to be tested with the Challenge 
  • National or international registered company
  • More than 5 employees
  • Annual turnover of less than €50M
  • Have already entered into business relations with an African utility, resulting in the signature – either effective or imminent – of a memorandum of understanding.

The collaborative project must have digital technology as a core element (telecom, computer or cloud-based technology); be innovative either intrinsically or in relation to the local market/country; and be local i.e. have project management activities in the country where the project is based. 

Eligible countries (2023 edition)

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, 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, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

How to apply?

1. Download the Utilities Application Pack (email address required)

2. Watch the recording of the information webinar in English here or in French here.   

3. Complete the application form and prepare the required documents 

4. Submit your project before 15th May 2023 - 23:59 CET


Key dates & Application Support

For more information:


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