French investor Thierry Deau’s Meridiam signs $179-million hydropower-plant deal with Gabon

The Thierry Deau-led Meridiam, a French multinational investor, has signed a $179-million financing deal with Gabon Power Co. to finance a major hydropower plant in the country, Bloomberg reported

Meridiam is a global investment and asset management company founded by Deau in 2005. The company is based in Paris and specializes in developing, financing and managing long-term public infrastructure projects in Europe, North America and Africa. 

Gabon Power Co. is a state-run company owned by Gabon’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (FGIS).

In 2019, Meridiam signed a concession contract with Gabon for the project, Hydro Review reported.

The latest financing deal will result in the building of the 35-megawatt Kinguele Aval facility on the Mbei River, 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Libreville, Gabon’s capital. The project will include the construction of a gravity concrete weir, power plant, stilling basin and substation.

According to Bloomberg, Meridiam stated that the deal will provide sufficient power to generate about 13 percent of the capital’s electricity needs and eventually replace existing thermal output, saving more than 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Gabon is a Central African country, whose economy largely depends on petroleum, manganese mining and timber processing. As of 2020, the unemployment rate in Gabon was approximately 20.47 percent. 

With the latest deal, Deau will create an estimated 800 jobs during the construction period. The plant is expected to start generating power in 2024. 

Meridiam will own 60 percent of the Kinguele Hydropower project company, with its partner FGIS owning 40 percent. 

Seventy-five percent of the financing for the project will come from the International Finance Corporation, African Development Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa and Islamic Development Bank, as agreed in 2019 when Meridiam signed the concession contract.

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