Kampala, Uganda, 8th November 2017: The Renewable Energy Challenge Fund: Solar Window has officially launched its Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to support innovations in solar energy access in Uganda. This is the second window of the Renewable Energy Challenge Fund (RECF), which is managed by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) CleanStart programme, and funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda. UNCDF will provide de-risking capital to innovative business models that foster access to decentralized solar energy solutions, including both off-grid solar PV systems and mini-grids.

Uganda has established itself as one of the key markets for off-grid solar in Sub-Saharan Africa– with over 200 local and international companies active in the space. Despite the solar sector’s sizable growth, market penetration is low with a large portion of the addressable market still unreached – Only a small fraction of Uganda’s off-grid population of 33M is using solar energy as a solution to the high levels of energy poverty. What can be done to increase the adoption of off-grid solar PV solutions across Uganda?

The Challenge Fund Solar Window seeks to provide cost-sharing grants to for-profit companies or consortia including for-profit and non-profit entities, who will drive increased access to solar energy solutions in Uganda. Innovative business ideas should also promote employment or income generation opportunities for women and youth. The EOI period for the Solar Window will be open from November 8, 2017 to December 12,2017. Thereafter, successful applicants will be invited to submit full proposals to RECF.

The RECF: Solar Window info sharing and networking event in Kampala brought together an impressive audience of over 140 stakeholders, representing solar companies, government, solar industry associations, energy and micro-financers, and community-based organizations working in the solar energy space. The event was opened by Mr. Wafula Wilson, Commissioner for Renewable Energy of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. Mr. Wafula spoke about the vibrancy of the solar energy sector in Uganda, and emphasized the importance of product quality and compatibility for last-mile and rural populations. Experts from UNCDF also shared knowledge on innovative models incorporating solar into agricultural productivity and microfinance institutions as solar financiers and distributors. Finally, the World Bank Lighting Global team talked about the utility of data for solar companies.

UNCDF would like to thank all participants of the RECF: Solar Window event. Slides from the presentations, Solar Window Guidelines, and FAQs can be found on the RECF EOI page.

Interested applicants are encouraged to:

  1. Join the RECF team during the virtual information and Q&A session on Friday, Nov. 10th from 3-5 EAT. Registration can be found here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5476092759922758146
  2. Schedule a virtual consultation with the RECF Technical Assistance (TA) team, available until December 5th: https://doodle.com/poll/kfnqq8wr7a88mawg
  3. Apply by completing an Expression of Interest form online, before 17:00 EAT, December 12th: https://uncdf.forms.fm/renewable-energy-challenge-fund-recf-solar-window

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