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Frequently Asked Questions

1. General Information

What is the idea behind the SPF?

SPF is a fund for project developers that want to implement small-scale projects to support the local population in sub-Saharan Africa with renewable energy. By financially supporting local non-profit actors in implementing their own ideas, the rural energy supply shall be improved. As the SPF aims to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, a sustainable design of the projects is key. Projects should thus envision a sustainable solution for social, economic and/or ecological questions. They must focus on green energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydro or biomass.

Who is behind the SPF?

The SPF is part of the initiative “Grüne Bürgerenergie für Afrika” (Green People’s Energy) which is administered by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. GIZ is implementing technical cooperation projects on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ). The idea for the initiative has been put forward by Federal Minister Dr. Gerd Müller (BMZ) himself.

What is the SPF strategy?

The SPF aims to support innovative ideas of project applicants from the civil society in their quest for a better and more sustainable energy supply. This idea is globally promoted by our Special Representatives for Energy in Africa, Bärbel Höhn und Josef Göppel. Together, we strive to push forward the best ideas of local non-profit actors. As local actors know best the needs of people in their country, the implementation of the project lies in their hands. The role of the SPF in Germany is limited to the organization of financial means and the management of the fund. In order to further develop our strategy, all impact data is collected and assessed in a solid monitoring concept.

2. Project Development

Which types of projects are fundable?

All projects linked to decentralised renewable energy and fulfilling the formal requirement (see below) are eligible for funding. For example, projects can range from the improvement of technologies to the provision of trainings. Creative and exceptional ideas are very welcome.

Who can propose a project? Who can be co-applicant?

In order to propose a project, several formal criteria must be met by applicant and co-applicant.

The applicants’ main seat must be located in sub-Saharan Africa with at least one department in the target region of the project. Only non-profit organisations or cooperatives are eligible to receive funding.

Partnering with a co-applicant for project planning or implementation is possible. Non-profit organisations or cooperatives from sub-Saharan Africa may cooperate with non-profit organisations or cooperatives from outside this region. Both applicant and co-applicant remain subject to the formally established conditions and criteria. Non-sub-Saharan organisations without a partner organisation in sub-Saharan Africa are not eligible for support from the SPF. German organisations, however, can seek advice at Bengo, which accompanies and advises private development cooperation agencies in all phases of project implementation.

Please find an overview of all possible constellations of applicants and co-applicants below.

Type of Organisation

Allowed to apply?

Allowed to be co-applicant?

Non-profit organisation from sub-Saharan Africa



NGO from sub-Saharan Africa



Governments/public institutions from sub-Saharan Africa



Cooperatives from sub-Saharan Africa



Social institutions from sub-Saharan Africa



University program from sub-Saharan Africa



Church initiatives from sub-Saharan Africa



GIZ programs from sub-Saharan Africa



Any non-profit organisation or cooperative located outside of sub-Saharan Africa



Any single private person



Any for-profit organisation or company



In which countries is it possible to carry out SPF projects?

Projects from all sub-Saharan countries with a GIZ country office are eligible. However, 75% of funded projects have to come from one of the nine focus countries of the initiative. Please find below a list of sub-Saharan countries with a GIZ office. The focus countries are highlighted in bold letters:

Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, EthiopiaGhana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, MozambiqueNamibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia.

How long does the organisation need to have experience with renewable energy?

Know-how about renewable energy is an important prerequisite for successful project implementation. Therefore, we particularly encourage organisations that have at least three years of experience in the field of renewable energy. If your organisation has only recently worked with renewable energy, please describe how substantial know-how will be acquired (consultation of experts, etc.). In any case, the organisation still must have been operating for three years.

What is the financial scope of SPF projects?

The maximum funding volume per project is 200.000€. Projects with smaller funding volumes are also welcome. Of the maximum 200.000€, 80% can be funded by “Grüne Bürgerenergie für Afrika”. This implies that the project applicant must cover 20% of the total costs.

Is it possible to use several different financial instruments?

The project applicant can employ both monetary means and/or workforce to bear the 20% of own funding. If serious circumstances make it impossible to provide the 20% of funding, please consult our project coordinators to explore the options.

3. Application

How does the application process work?

The application process consists of two steps: first, the submission of a project outline and subsequently, if requested by “Grüne Bürgerenergie für Afrika”, a full proposal. The project outline can be handed in at any time via e-mail ( All received project outlines are reviewed four times per year, with the references dates being 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December. The “Grüne Bürgerenergie für Afrika” steering committee including BMZ staff checks the project outline for formal criteria and examines if the project fits the overall vision of the SPF. Selected project applicants will then be asked to work on a full proposal, which has to be returned to the project coordinators within four weeks. After a final examination of the eligibility requirements by the project coordinators, a contract will be drafted.

Both project outline and full proposal can be rejected if either of them is not deemed appropriate.

Can the application be submitted in other languages than English or French?

No, the application should either be written in English or French.

How long does the application process take?

It can take up to seven months from submittal of the project outline until the mutual signing of the contract. Please hand in all required documents timely in order to avoid delays.

Please consider the references dates 31th March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December in your planning. For example, a project planned for July requires a submittal of the project outline to the project coordinators by 31st December of the previous year.

Is there a deadline to hand in project outlines?

No. Project outlines may be handed in at any time. However, we advise to hand in project outlines at the references dates 31th March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December. On these dates, all project outlines that have been submitted since the last reference date will be collected, screened and reviewed.

Please consider this in your planning. For example, a project planned for July requires a submittal of the project outline to the project coordinators by 31st December of the previous year.

What documents are needed for an application?

The project outline must be submitted with a certificate of registration and the organisation’s statute. If the planned project includes construction (e.g., installation of a solar plant), Annex 1 of the project outline is mandatory.

Further information will be communicated to you via email by the project coordinators. Please ensure access to your emails in order to guarantee a smooth process.

To whom should outlines be sent?

Project outlines are exclusively accepted via email. Please use to hand in the project outline.

How long does it take to get a feedback?

We will confirm receipt of the project outline within 48 hours via email. It may take up to six weeks after the reference date until we provide you with feedback and a decision.

Why are Full Proposals needed if the Project Outline has been accepted?

Once a project outline has been accepted, applicants are asked to hand in a full proposal. The full proposal is an extended, more detailed version of the project outline. The template for the full proposal contains instructions on how to include all essential information.

Which criteria should be met by the application?

For a detailed overview please have a look at our Conditions & Criteria.

Under which conditions can applications be excluded from the process?

Projects can be rejected when the mandatory Conditions & Criteria are not met and will not be met during project implementation. For instance, corruption allegations or investigations against leading employees or the management cause an immediate end of collaboration. Repeatedly occurring inexplicable delays or missing documents can also lead to a rejection.

Can a refused project be resubmitted?

In general, a renewed application with the same project idea is only possible if the project coordinators advises an improvement of the project outline. In this case you may apply again one year after the last application.

4. Funding

How does it work without an own accounting system?

There are different options to administer the financial means for the project implementation. Ideally, the project applicant has an own accounting system. If the organisation does not have such an accounting system, proper accounting can be ensured in cooperation with another organisation. For example, the GIZ country office could be entitled to manage the funds. All options will be discussed individually in the selection process and depend on the organisational structure of the applicant.

When are payments made?

The time of payment depends on the finance instrument identified for each individual project. Depending on the financing form, payments will be made two or three month in advance. In any case, security deposits of 10 % will be disbursed after the final audit has taken place.

Which costs can be taken into account?

Only costs with receipts are taken into account. Funding can include local experts, international experts, procurements, travel costs, training costs administration, costs (lump sum) and other costs, as budgeted.

Is there anything that cannot be part of the expenses?

Yes, due to German financial guide lines vehicles, pesticides and drugs are excluded from funding.

How can costs be handed in if no receipt is available?

Without receipt, the necessary evidence for expenditure is missing. Therefore, reimbursement cannot be made.

5. Implementation

Over what period of time should a project be implemented?

The frame of reference for the project duration is twelve months from the start of implementation (without the application process) to the beginning of evaluation. It is possible to design a project with shorter duration. In this case, a detailed and plausible time plan justifying the shorter project duration must be included in the project outline. Longer project implementations are the exception and must be discussed individually.

Can parts of the contract be changed?

Due to the agreement between GIZ and BMZ it is not possible to change the content of the contract. The content of the contract is based on the submitted full proposal.

Are documents from other supported projects available?

Valuable results will be presented on this website as soon as they are available.

How is the progress of implementation monitored?

As stated in the contract documents, the project has to hand in a progress report every six months, starting six months after the start of implementation. If the project duration is longer than 12 months, a second progress report has to be handed in 12 months after the start of implementation. The final report/ self-evaluation has to be handed in after the official end of funding through the SPF.

The template for the progress report will be sent to the project with the contract documents.

6. Evaluation

What has to be included in the self-evaluation report?

The self-evaluation report should critically assess positive as well as negative influences of the project on the local population. It should also include an evaluation of the achieved results compared to the project’s aims.

When does the evaluation have to be completed?

The evaluation must be completed within eight weeks after the official end of funding through the SPF as stipulated in the contract.

What are external evaluations?

Parallel to the self-evaluations, the project coordinators conduct external evaluations. For this purpose, an external partner will be engaged.

What information about a project will be presented on the website?

If you have agreed to the publication of your project, the website will present the project title, name and type of your organisation, country, location (as it will be indicated on our project map), timeframe and donors as well as a brief project description, information on the employed technology, activities and beneficiaries. If available, pictures will also be uploaded.