Challenge Call

With the Challenge Call, GBE is looking for concrete solutions to address two specific challenges in the energy access sphere: Increasing Off-Grid System Sustainability and Reducing CO2 Emissions via Energy Access.

The expected impact and likely success of the proposed solutions to overcome either of the two identified challenges will be evaluated by an Assessment Committee. This evaluation will be done on the basis of administrative eligibility and technical suitability. A special focus is placed on sustainability, meaning that benefits pursued in the framework of the project’s timeframe are expected to continue beyond implementation. 

A Decision Committee including representatives of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will then select the strongest proposals presented by the Assessment Committee.

The Challenge Call adds to the already operational Small Projects Fund, which offers financial support to renewable energy projects led by non-profit organisations. It is part of a variety of activities implemented by GBE with the aim of working towards SDG 7.


Please note that we have granted an additional five days to complete the application process. The adapted timeline is now as follows:

Who can apply?

Applicants must be either non-profit organisations or local for-profit organisations in the country of implementation without structural links to for-profit organisations from industrialised countries.

The Challenge Call prioritizes solutions from within the nine Green People’s Energy focal countries: Ethiopia, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Uganda, and Zambia. However, applications from other sub-Saharan countries are also welcome.

For more information, please carefully check the resources provided below.



Challenge 1

Increasing Off-Grid System Sustainability

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, a significant part of off-grid systems such as Mini-Grids, Solar-Home-Systems, Solar Lanterns or devices such as solar pumps, cooling units, etc. are either already or at risk of becoming dysfunctional. This has negative socio-economic as well as environmental implications adding to the unfavorable relation of high costs related to setting up the initial hardware as compared to relatively modest financial means required for repair or maintenance. Typical reasons for this challenge include: 

  • Limited financial resources to pay for maintenance and repair services
  • Lack of skilled personnel to perform maintenance and repair tasks
  • Warranty and after-sales services not available or not followed through
  • Lack of organisations or services targeting repair or maintenance

To address Challenge 1, project approaches should link to at least one of the sub-themes described below. 

Maintenance and Repair

Your project directly maintains or repairs defective or defective systems in a sustainable manner or contributes to institutional solutions offering these services. 

Capacity Development and Training

Your project supports the training and qualification of individuals (e.g. technicians) or organisations to maintain or repair off-grid systems in rural areas. 

Warranty, Insurance or After-Sales Services

Your project supports rural clients and communities to access after-sales services or identifies solutions to improve the ability of organisations to deliver these. 

System Monitoring and Communication

Your project contributes to the analysis of system performance, contributing to the (remote) identification and evaluation of technical problems.


Your project covers a subject not listed above but relevant for the challenge. In this case, please specify the relevant sub-theme in your application.

Challenge 2

Reducing CO2 Emissions via Energy Access

Climate change demands the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in many sectors. In industrialised countries, this has led to CO2 certificates becoming an increasingly valuable asset. In many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, however, electricity to power public institutions, businesses and homes, is still scarce. Climate-friendly renewable energy technologies provide a viable alternative but are lagging behind trajectories required to meet SDG 7. If both trends can be linked, CO2 certificates could have the potential to unlock additional sources of finance for renewable energy technologies, which in turn could be converted into CO2 certificates. Currently there are several barriers hindering this sector coupling. Among them are:

  • Weak framework for calculating CO2 emission reductions of different energy access project setups.
  • Lack of data on the CO2 emission reduction potential of various energy access technologies
  • Few project approaches that aim at generating CO2 emission reduction certificates.
  • Low innovation potential of energy access projects intending to integrate coherent climate change mitigation metrics in their project approaches.

To address Challenge 2, project approaches should link to at least one of the sub-themes described below. 

Methodology and Monitoring Schemes

Your project intends to develop a monitoring methodology for CO2 reduction effects in energy access projects.


Your project collects and uses data from experimental project approaches or specific energy access technologies or setups.

Pilot Implementation

Your project pilots project approaches that can generate CO2 emission reduction certificates (e.g. via electric cooking or productive use).

Adaptation Finance

Your project specifically targets accessing climate change adaptation finance through measurable climate change adaptation effects.


Your project covers a subject not listed above but relevant for the challenge. In this case, please specify the relevant sub-theme in your application.

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