Scaling Off-Grid Energy is a platform for leading donors and investors to develop Africa’s off-grid energy sector and coordinate investments to connect more households and businesses to electricity, faster. Together, the partners will align investments, identify opportunities to coordinate with African partners, and provide the patient capital needed to unlock broad private sector financing to reach scale. At a country level, the partners will strengthen the off-grid energy ecosystem and policy environment to advance the goals and commitments made under the U.S. and U.K. flagship energy access initiatives, Power Africa and Energy Africa.


We see off-grid energy solutions, as critical to achieving the vision of universal access to clean, modern energy enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 7.  And we see the emergence of market-based approaches to extending energy access - such as household solar - as a promising market that has a proven business model and offers tremendous potential to reach scale. However, the off-grid energy sector will only reach its growth potential if donors, philanthropists, corporations, investors, and entrepreneurs work in a more strategic and coordinated way to create a vibrant market ecosystem for off-grid solutions.

USAID’s Grand Challenges for Development bring global attention and resources to specific, well-defined international development problems and promote innovative approaches to solving them. Grand Challenges for Development are about more than sourcing new promising innovations, they are about scaling the solutions that are proven to work. Achieving this requires a holistic approach where we address critical barriers to market growth and expansion. Scaling Off-Grid Energy aims to help scale pay-as-you-go household solar systems, as a business model that has been proven in the marketplace, and has potential to reach millions.


Foundational Partners invest financial resources and provide their expertise and networks to support the overall Grand Challenge for Development. The Foundational Partners also participate in an ongoing governance arrangement to guide strategic direction and identify new opportunities for programming and investment. These include:

Power Africa aims to increase access to electricity by adding 30,000 megawatts (MW) of new generation capacity and enabling 60 million new electricity connections for homes and businesses.

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s U.S. Global Development Lab, uses science, technology, innovation, and partnerships as tools to accelerate USAID’s development objectives in Africa and around the world.  

The U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. We are tackling the global challenges of our time including poverty and disease, mass migration, insecurity and conflict. Our work is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK too. 

The U.K.'s Energy Africa campaign aims to help Africa light up the continent quickly by accelerating access to household solar technology and help bring universal energy access forward from 2080 to 2030.

The Shell Foundation is a U.K.-registered charity, established in 2000, that works to co-create and scale enterprise-based solutions to global development challenges related to energy access, sustainable mobility and job creation. 

Scaling Off Grid Energy


Aligned Partners commit to supporting the overall goal of the Grand Challenge for Development, and will engage in one or more of the “pillars” by either aligning their existing efforts or co-investing in new activities.  These include:

Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $103 million in 96 companies across Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the United States.

Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. 

The GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities programme promotes new models to connect people to affordable and reliable utility services through mobile. Collaborating across industries, we can leverage mobile network coverage, machine-to-machine communications and mobile money to provide energy, water and sanitation services to close the utility services gap.


We welcome opportunities to partner with organizations that share a commitment to expanding energy access in Africa, and to building a vibrant market for off-grid energy solutions. By joining this Grand Challenge for Development, partners are making a significant and bold commitment to growing the off-grid energy marketplace in sub-Saharan Africa and connecting millions of households to electricity.

To learn more about partnership opportunities, please email: