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General Information

The Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA) is an initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) supported by the German Government to strengthen occupational prospects of young people in Africa. Under the SIFA, a Financing Facility for Skills Development has been established. The Facility is implemented by the African Union’s Development Agency - New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), with financing from Germany through KfW.

SIFA Financing Facility provides funding for skills development projects in selected African countries. Projects should contribute to employment-oriented skills development for young people. Selected projects can receive a grant between EUR 0.2 to 3 million for sustainable and innovative initiatives. Grants are allocated on a competitive basis through three different windows.

A Funding Window is a funding category with a specific goal. Each funding window has specific criteria defining who is eligible to apply and what type of project can be funded, as well as maximum grant amounts.

There are three (3) funding windows under the SIFA Financing Facility. They are summarized here: SIFA Funding Windows

Currently, there are eight (8) participating countries for SIFA: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia. SIFA funding is available for projects in these participating countries only.

For detailed information about SIFA, please visit our website www.skillsafrica.org and download the Instruction Guide for Applicants available on the "Apply" section of the website.

SIFA’s policy is to offer fair and transparent opportunities to all applicants. Therefore, we cannot provide personal consultations, or review documents sent to us via e-mail.

If you have questions, please check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the website www.skillsafrica.org, and the Instruction Guide for Applicants available to download from the “Apply” section of the website.

If you cannot find the right answer, please send your question to us through the contact form on the website www.skillsafrica.org. The questions and answers will be published on the "FAQ" section of the website.

Eligibility

SIFA funding is available for applicants in the participating countries. Applicants must be experienced stakeholders (legal entities, e.g. institutions, organizations, companies) in the field of skills development.

One responsible Lead will always form a consortium with either one or two partners, according to the eligibility criteria for each Funding Window:

Funding Window 1:

  • Lead: Domestic public or private accredited training provider
  • Primary Partner: Domestic private sector entity

Funding Window 2:

  • Lead: International company
  • Primary Partner: Domestic public or private accredited training provider

Funding Window 3:

  • Lead: Domestic public or private entity
  • If the Lead is public then one of the partners must be private.

Please check the full list of Eligible Applicants, and the chapter “Eligible Applicants for each Window” of the Instruction Guide for Applicants for details.

No, individuals are not eligible to apply for SIFA funding. Only registered legal entities (institutions, organizations, companies) can apply.

Each Applicant must consist of one responsible Lead in consortium with either one or two partners. This means the Lead must always have a Primary Partner, and can optionally also have a Secondary Partner.

Funding Windows 1 and 2

A combination of 5 technical and didactical interventions:

  1. Procurement of training equipment
  2. Construction, rehabilitation or expansion of learning infrastructure
  3. Training of trainers*
  4. Curriculum design*
  5. Learner scholarships*

*The activities 3-5 can be funded only in combination with the core activities 1 and/or 2 and only up to 5 % of the total project cost.

Funding Window 3

Smaller, innovative (pilot) projects, such as the following technical and didactical interventions:

  • Image campaigns for promoting skills development
  • ICT-based approaches to skills development
  • Entrepreneurship/mentorships programs
  • Equipping of workshops, classrooms, alternative/innovative learning spaces
  • Student or Learner Scholarships
  • Curriculum design
  • Training of Trainers Program (excluding recurrent costs)

Please check the complete Eligibility Criteria and the Instruction Guide for Applicants for details.

Each Applicant must provide the following evidence as proof of eligibility of the consortium:

  • Copies of documentation of legal status / registration showing that the Lead and its Partners belong to the list of eligible entities
  • Copies of accreditation documents of training providers
  • Audited or certified financial statements of the Lead for the last three years
  • Number and qualifications of relevant staff
  • At least one reference of a project with a financial scope that is similar to the proposed project idea
  • Commitment letter for counterpart funding, showing breakdown of estimated value of proposed complementary (in-kind) measures

The following costs (activities) are NOT supported by the SIFA Financing Facility:

  • Normal recurrent costs such as staff salaries, rental or maintenance of equipment
  • Import duties, VAT, or other public charges

However, these costs may be financed through the applicant’s counterpart contribution.

Counterpart Contribution

The Counterpart Contribution is the Applicant's own funds (cash or in-kind) contributing to the grant project.

The available options for Counterpart Contribution are:

  1. Co-financing of invoices
  2. Implementation of project-related (in-kind) measures that can be quantified in cash terms
  3. Payment of taxes (e.g. VAT, import duties and other public charges) on works, goods and services rendered to the project
  4. Recurrent costs, such as salaries for additional project-related staff, and utility charges (e.g. water, electricity, heating) for the duration of the project

For more details, please check the chapter “Requirements for the Counterpart Contribution” of the Instruction Guide for Applicants.

  • Funding Window 1: at least 10% of the total project cost
  • Funding Window 2: at least 30% of the total project cost
  • Funding Window 3: at least 10% of the total project cost

Example for Funding Window 1:

If the total cost of your project is 1,000,000 EUR (100%), the grant you can apply for is up to 900,000 EUR (90%) and the counterpart contribution must be at least 100,000 EUR (10%).

To apply for the maximum grant amount of 3,000,000 EUR for Funding Window 1, your counterpart contribution must be at least 333,333 EUR so the total project cost would be at least 3,333,333 EUR.

No, there is no template for the commitment letter for the counterpart contribution. As a minimum, the commitment letter must:

  • Specify the total value of the counterpart contribution
  • Specify which counterpart option(s) is/are proposed (see options I-IV described in the Instruction Guide for Applicants)
  • For option II "Implementation of project-related (in-kind) measures": specify the proposed project-related (in-kind) measures, with break-down of the estimated value
  • For option III "Payment of taxes": indicate the tax/VAT registration number
  • Optional: specify the role of each partner within the consortium regarding the Counterpart Contribution

Salaries for any existing staff are not eligible, neither for SIFA funding, nor as counterpart contribution, since such salaries are already paid by someone; shifting existing staff to a SIFA project is also not eligible.

However, salaries for permanent new staff, specifically employed for the SIFA project, can be financed through the counterpart contribution (option IV - "Recurrent costs, such as salaries for additional project-related staff, and utility charges (e.g. water, electricity, heating) for the duration of the project").

Eligible for counterpart contribution (option IV) are also overtime payments for existing staff if they work on the SIFA project, if the Grantee can prove that (timesheets, salary slips showing such overtime payments).

External short-term trainers/experts can be financed through SIFA funding (Activity 3 "Training of Trainers" and Activity 4 "Curriculum Design").

Application Process

The SIFA Application Process is in two stages, comprising:

  • Stage 1: Submission of Concept Note
  • Stage 2: Submission of Full Proposal - ONLY for shortlisted Concept Notes

The process is summarized in the "Apply" section of the website. For a detailed description please check the Instruction Guide for Applicants.

A Concept Note is a brief project proposal, to be submitted during the first stage of the application process. The Concept Note is intended to be brief, focusing on the fulfilment of the eligibility and selection criteria of the proposal/applicant and introducing the key aspects of the activity proposed to be supported.

Concept Notes for SIFA can be submitted via our online application system (SmartME) only. To register on SmartME, please go to the “Sign In” section of the website.

For details about the application process, please check the Instruction Guide for Applicants.

The selection of project proposals is guided by the following Assessment Criteria:

  • Viability and readiness to implement
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Regional impact and replicability
  • Involvement of the private sector
  • Access for/impact on women, youth, and vulnerable groups including refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons, the disadvantaged and disabled
  • Overall quality of the proposal
  • Relevance

The total maximum score is 100 points. All eligible proposals will be scored and ranked and the highest ranked will be selected. To qualify for shortlisting, the proposal must obtain a minimum score of 60 points. The three highest ranked concept notes for each participating country will be shortlisted and invited to submit Full Proposals.

Please check the presentation of the Assessment Criteria and the Instruction Guide for Applicants for details.

Calls for Proposals

The current status of calls for proposals for all Funding Windows can be found at https://skillsafrica.org/apply#funding.

Currently, only Funding Windows I and II have been launched. They are opened for each participating country individually. You can view open calls and deadlines for each country here: Funding Window I / Funding Window II

Currently only Funding Windows I and II have been launched. Calls for proposals are opened for each participating country individually, thus each country also has a different submission deadline. You can view open calls and deadlines for each country here: Funding Window I / Funding Window II

Please note: The exact deadline for each call is displayed in the online application system SmartME as a countdown in the section “My Applications”.

SmartME Online Application System

To register on SmartME, please go to https://skillsafrica.org/register and follow the instructions.

If you already have an account, you can login at www.skillsafrica.org/signin.

If you did not receive an email with the confirmation link after registering in SmartME, please check your "junk mail" folder and make sure your mailbox is not full. If you still have not received the confirmation e-mail, please repeat the registration process and make sure you enter your e-mail address correctly.

If you encounter technical problems in the SmartME system, please consult the SmartME Helpdesk (available in the "Support" section when logged in to the system).