The International Solar Alliance And Invest India Launches Africa’s 1st Edition Of The SolarX Challenge

By  |  February 7, 2023

According to a United Nations report, about 80% of the global population lives in countries that are net importers of fossil fuel, that’s about 6 billion people who are dependent on fossil fuels from other countries, which makes them vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises. These countries have a heavy dependence on coal, oil, and gas, which are by far the largest contributors to climate change, accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Although Africa possesses some of the world’s most significant solar power generation potential today, the continent still accounts for less than 3% of the world’s installed renewables-based electricity generation capacity.

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) in collaboration with Invest India, has launched the first edition of the SolarX Grand Challenge, focused on the African region. The challenge aims to promote innovation and discover local solutions, with the over-arching objective of capacity building within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The SolarX Grand Challenge 2022-23 aims to promote innovations that are implementable, cost-effective, and scalable solutions to some of the persistent challenges in the solar sector. 

Aimed at enhancing the startup ecosystem in Africa, it presents a threefold opportunity by attracting investments in the solar energy sector, thinning the gap in the energy crisis, and building the local startup ecosystem to develop innovative solutions.   

The challenge also includes an intensive Capacity Building Program as its integral part. This interaction-based program will focus on the skills entrepreneurs need to build their startup and scale their product. A special focus will be on building capacities of small enterprises in the solar energy sector and the program modules will be aligned with the needs of the local startup ecosystem in Africa. 

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an action-oriented, member-driven, collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies to bring energy access, ensure energy security, and drive energy transition in its member countries. The ISA was conceived as a joint effort by India and France to mobilize efforts against climate change by deploying solar energy solutions. The SolarX Grand Challenge will enable four-fold benefits in technology, finance, innovation, and the business startup ecosystem of the solar energy sector in the region.

The 20 Winning startups will get a cash grant of USD 15 K each and access to market for selected innovators, assisted through an in-house acceleration program. The ISA will support the innovations identified from the program, Invest India, and other support partners for wider implementation through Mentorship support programs, Investor connect programs, and Market Access programs that will enable buyer-seller meets in collaboration with the ecosystem, private players and enablers.

10 problem statements pertinent to the solar energy sector have been identified for this challenge to promote innovation in the solar energy space. Applicants are invited to apply by March 31, 2023, and evaluation and shortlisting of the applications are expected to be completed by June 2023. This will be followed by the declaration of the winners in July 2023.

The acceleration program will be delivered virtually and physically to ensure outreach to all finalists across the continent.

You can get more information on the Challenge and apply directly here.

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