9 May 2014
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GE Africa (Lagos)

GE, USADF and USAID Launch Off-Grid Energy Challenge in Six Countries

press release
  • To launch Challenge in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania
  • Entries are open from now through June 20, 2014, in this second round of the Challenge, and can be accessed at www.usadf.gov/USADFOffGridChallenge.html
  • 18 grants of up to USD $100,000 each will be awarded to companies, organizations and individuals providing off-grid solutions which deploy renewable resources and power economic activities in their respective communities

To support off-grid energy solutions, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have teamed up with GE Africa (NYSE: GE) to launch the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge. The three-year initiative will award 25 or more grants of up to $100,000 each to African companies and organizations providing off-grid solutions that deploy renewable resources and power economic activities. The first six grants, totaling $600,000, were awarded in the Challenge's first round in 2013; five companies and one university already are expanding their operations and testing the feasibility of new models for delivering power to underserved communities. Today, we are formally announcing the second round of the challenge in which 18 additional grants will be awarded. The Off-Grid Challenge is part of Power Africa, President Obama's initiative to increase access to reliable, affordable, cleaner and more sustainable power in Sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa is also helping ensure responsible, transparent and effective management of energy resources in Sub-Saharan Arica. The challenge aims to benefit rural and urban populations currently underserved by existing utility companies in the six Power Africa countries consisting of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Speaking at a news briefing in Abuja to announce the call for proposals, President and CEO of GE Africa Jay Ireland said "GE is working with public and private sector stakeholders to provide sustainable, decentralized ways to power more of Africa," said Mr. Ireland. "Africans know what works in their communities, and this competition encourages these local solutions to power challenges."

Shari Berenbach, President and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation, commended the business leadership of African companies and organizations that are getting power into areas not reached by the traditional grid. "USADF and Power Africa are looking to tap innovative business models to increase access to reliable, affordable energy for more Africans. USADF, with its focus on economic development from the grassroots level and African-led and –managed projects, is pleased to lead this initiative to help reach these communities who need power as much as anyone else," Ms. Berenbach stated.

USAID is working to pool and leverage commitments of governments and private sector partners and is providing the tools needed to overcome the barriers that have constrained Africa's power sector and its economic growth and development. USAID's Andrew Herscowitz who serves as President Obama's Coordinator for Power Africa and Trade Africa, said "Through this grant challenge, we are pleased to be impacting Africans directly, so more people can be powering their enterprises and lighting up their shops, offices, schools, health clinics, and homes. With these mini- and off-grid solutions, Power Africa continues to leverage the possibilities and knowhow on the ground with US government and private sector resources to truly grow African communities, cities, and the continent." The Off-Grid Challenge, funded by GE Africa, USADF and USAID, will promote innovative solutions that further develop, scale-up or extend the use of proven technologies for off-grid renewable energy. The focus is on delivering power for productive and commercial activities. When the program was initially announced in 2013, six winners were selected – three each from Nigeria and Kenya. One of last year's winners, Green Village Electricity (GVE), has started its solar powered generation plant, which is providing electricity for 1,500 members of Egbeke Community in Rivers state, Nigeria.

African-owned and -operated businesses or organizations that are developing their own technologies, and/or acquiring and installing technology developed elsewhere, are eligible to apply. Initiatives from energy service providers, community associations and private companies that are developing energy enabling technology will be strongly considered.

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving, and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works.

For more information, visit the company's website at www.ge.com.

GE Africa, a subsidiary of General Electric, Inc., delivers innovative technology solutions for regional challenges to help its customers support growth throughout the continent. In particular, GE Energy is providing a host of advanced solutions in water, oil & gas, and energy delivery technologies, with a focus on innovative localized energy solutions.

About USADF

USADF, a public corporation in the U.S. federal government, funds African enterprises, cooperatives and community-based organizations to build capacity and expand economic activities. In 18 countries with over 350 project grants, USADF is benefiting more than a million and a half Africans. USADF operates as the only US agency exclusively centered on an Africanled, grassroots development model to encourage shared prosperity. For more information on applying to the Challenge, contact OffGridChallenge@usadf.gov.

About USAID

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States while improving the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world. \

Contacts: Osagie Ogunbor, GE Africa, Osagie.Ogunbor@GE.com, (234) 814-137-7176

Rabayah Akhter, USADF, RAkhter@USADF.gov, (202) 233-8804

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