HomeRegional NewsCentral Africa22 African innovators access funds for off-grid rural electrification

22 African innovators access funds for off-grid rural electrification

Four local Tanzanian firms are part of a group of 22 African innovators who have received $400 000 grants from the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) Power Africa Off-grid Energy Challenge: Round II to help enhance rural electrification.

At a presentation ceremony held in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday and presided over by Energy and Minerals Minister, Professor Sospeter Muhongo and US African Development Foundation (USADF) President and Chief Executive Officer, Shari Berenbach, the four local firms were among 60 applicants of a Power Africa Off-grid Energy Challenge: Round II Winners.

“I congratulate our four local companies and urge them to use the grant fruitfully,” said Prof Muhongo who paid tribute to USA based technology firm, General Electric Inc. and United States Agency for International Development for supporting the initiative. Prof Muhongo said the government has given priority to rural electrification to reduce poverty which is mainly caused by lack of access to electricity.

“In that respect we commend GE Africa, USAID and USADF for supporting us in this endeavour,” the Minister noted affirming that the government’s goal is to ensure that more rural people are connected to the national grid.

Berenbach stated that, over 300 entries from six African countries applied for the annual grant, “the purpose of the challenge is to make available small business proposals of innovative ideas for rural electrification. The idea is to support these entrepreneurs with seed funding so that they can later get commercial funding,” said Berenbach. She further stated that the grants are mainly focused on renewable energy projects targeting rural populations in six African countries to assist provide power supply to such groups of productive people.

“This is a one off grant which we hope will assist these entrepreneurs break into the commercial power generation market,” Berenbach noted. The six African countries are Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya and Nigeria.

22 success stories in six African countries develop off-grid energy to increase electrification


  • Solar Light Company will power Ghana’s mobile phone economy by prototyping and locally assembling “Sunana”, a solar powered mobile charging system designed to be used by Ghana’s informal street vendors.
  • The Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA) is working with farmers to install a 20 kilowatt gasifier plant, to convert biomass and agricultural residue into electricity for processing of local women’s palm oil products in an off-grid town in central Ghana.
  • NewEnergy will deploy solar-powered water pumping and purification technology to supply clean water to over 800 inhabitants of Nabogo. The solar installation will also power drip irrigation for rural farmers in arid northern Ghana.


  • Topstep Nigeria Limited will expand the capacity of their existing solar maize mill to supply maize milling services to over 500 individuals in Kaduna, a conflict-affected region of northern Nigeria. To accomplish this, Topstep will install five processing stations near the mill; each will have three high quality milling machines powered by solar energy.
  • Quintas Renewable Energy Solutions Limited is developing a 500 kilowatt biomass power plant that will use an off-grid community’s agricultural and forestry residue to power 230 households and over 34 commercial and cottage industry entities in Ondo State.
  • Sky Resources Limited will bring off-grid electricity to a Nigerian village in Imo State by developing a small solar micro-grid, supplying electricity for up to 75 small and micro businesses.
  • Ginphed Nigeria Limited will construct a bio-digester to convert animal manure into biogas to be used for electricity generation that will power local farms and agro-processing centers.


  • Pfoofy Power and Light Limited will develop two 10kW solar charging stations for 40 electric motorcycles, providing lower-cost transportation for goods and services in rural western Kenya
  • Boma Safi Limited distributes solar and energy efficient products, including solar lanterns and cook stoves. Their project will develop rural energy/distribution hubs in five Kenyan regions, strengthening the supply chain for off-grid customers.
  • Kitui Industries Limited has recently begun processing cottonseed oil into biodiesel. The company will supply 105 farmers with below market price bio-diesel as well as multi-purpose engines that can be used to power small-scale agricultural processing in rural eastern Kenya.
  • Sollatek Electronics Kenya Limited has completed a variety of solar projects across East Africa. The company will work with 15 fishing communities in rural areas of Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast to install solar centres in each area, providing access to much-needed cold storage for fish as well as solar lantern rentals.
  • SCODE Limited sells and finances small solar home systems and efficient cook stoves for Kenyans. The company provides loans to finance up to 85% of the cost of their products, and through custom metering devices customers repay the loans on a pay-as-you-go plan.


  • Space Engineering Limited is developing a hybrid solar-biomass power plant to generate 40kW of electricity that will be distributed over a mini-grid to 592 households, two schools, one health centre and nine local businesses that support maize and coffee agro businesses.
  • Jamii Power Limited will expand an existing 11kW solar-based mini-grid to 33kW, providing a pilot platform to test its innovative smart meter which pools users and allows improved grid management and reduced non-technical losses.
  • Lung’ali Natural Resources Company (LNRC) Ltd. is developing a small hydroelectric plant which will provide electricity to over 242 households in rural Tanzania; the grant will provide loans to households to pay for connections to the mini-grid.
  • L’s Solution Limited will build a 12kW solar-powered mini-grid that will provide first time access to electricity for 120 households, 10 businesses, three health centres and four schools in a remote area of Tanzania’s Ngorogoro conservation area.


  • Ethio Resource Group will provide electricity and light to a rural village by installing six one-kilowatt (kW) wind turbine systems to power six micro-grids. These systems will deliver power to 300 households, 20 enterprises and one health clinic in a remote area of the Amhara region.
  • Sun Transfer Tech PLC will sell solar home systems to 325 rural households through an energy lending scheme which will allow users to pay as they go, and empower small solar entrepreneurs to sell, install, and provide after-sales service for the systems.
  • Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA) will construct 420 biogas systems that will supply gas for efficient cook stoves in Alefa district, Amhara region. The project will include training for all users on the proper operation and maintenance of biogas systems.


  • Alternative Energy Inc. will install mini off-grid solar systems to power 90 households, one school and 11 shops in a community in Lofa County in the far northwest of Liberia.
  • Liberia Engineering and Geo-Tech Consultants Company will expand its current project to provide power by constructing a stand-alone 25kW solar plant to serve 50 off-grid households in Bong County.
  • Ecovillage Community Improvement Association, Inc. will deploy a 50kW off-grid solar power network that will power households, schools and businesses in an off-grid community outside the capital of Monrovia.
Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.