2023 NEF Innovation Challenge

About the Competition

The 8th Africa Energy Innovation Challenge organized by NEF challenges early-stage energy entrepreneurs across Africa to collaborate with local research institutions or industries to develop a prototype model of a key device/equipment for a social energy enterprise, agri-business, fintech solutions or energy management system using local resources.

Proposals are invited across four innovation tracks for early-stage energy entrepreneurs from Africa, including:

  • Track 1: Clean Energy Solutions for Agro-industry
  • Track 2: Energizing Healthcare & Education
  • Track 3: Smart Metering & Artificial Intelligence
  • Track 4: Cleaner Electrification of Transport/ Oil&Gas

Eligibility & How to Apply

Young professionals between the ages of 18 and 35 years from Africa are invited to participate in the competition across any of the four (4) innovation tracks above. Applications may be submitted by a team of at least three people. Teams may be formed across different schools, institutions, companies, countries etc. Individuals or teams may submit multiple applications. Women-led teams are strongly encouraged to apply.

Your proposed prototype model submission must not exceed 1- side of an A4 page and should include the following:

  • Project Title Your solution (250 words)
  • Innovation Track Expected impact (50 words)
  • Short abstract  (50 words)
  • Design tools and method (50 words)
  • Problem Statement (50 words)
  • Estimated costs and timeline (50 words)

Submissions must be made online and email evidence of submission in Microsoft Word or PDF format by email to info@thenef.org.

  • The Subject line of the email should follow the format: [Country] Title of the Project.
  • Submissions that exceed the page/word limit may be disqualified.
  • Shortlisted submissions would be invited to participate in the final round by submitting a 1-page poster to summarize  their design, with detailed budget, 2-page Design Brief and a Short 2-minute video to pitch a prototype model of the proposed solution.

Prizes & Recognitions

The finalists and winners will be selected by an independent panel of industry experts and experienced development professionals from public and private sector institutions. It is anticipated that at least 1 winner per track will be awarded grant prizes with up to 20 shortlisted entries offered complimentary passes to fully participate in the 2023. Winners of the competition get the opportunity to:

  • Receive cash prize grants of up to USD10,000 to demonstrate or scale the proposed solution;
  • Pitch their proposed prototype model at the 2023 Nigeria Energy Forum, using a poster and short video;
  • Benefit from unique networking opportunities with other young professionals as well as some of the most senior decision-makers in government, international development, academia and the private sector; &
  • Attend business development workshops, receive support from a dedicated start-up incubator.

Evaluation Criteria

The first round of submissions will be evaluated using the following attributes:

  • Local Content: utilize local resources, demonstrate use of local expertise, alternative energy services or efficient solutions for powering agriculture, education, healthcare, industries etc.; and be significant
    enough to impact large numbers of people, households and/or businesses.
  • Originality and creativity: present solutions that are original, creative in areas that are either underdeveloped or severely underdeveloped in research and literature.
  • Commercial Viability: proposed prototype model should be realistic, practical rather than just theory, cost efficient and outline commercial arrangements that address obvious roadblocks, using a specific prototype model.
  • Clarity: ideas should be presented in a clear and concise manner with realistic completion timeline.


Open call for proposal: May 15, 2023

 Early Proposal submission deadline: June 15, 2023

In-person Event & Past Winners Tag-up: July 18, 2023

Proposal submission deadline: August 31, 2023

 Shortlist for the final round: September 15, 2023

 Deadline for final submissions: October 15, 2023

 Video pitch, posters & awards: Nov. 23, 2023.

Please Note!!!

Organizers reserve the right to fully adjust/modify any ofthe details provided in this document above the contest.