Meridiam and Gabon Power reach financial close on 35-MW Kinguélé Aval hydroelectric

Kinguele Aval hydro

Gabon Power Company (GPC) and Meridiam have signed an agreement for the financing of the 35-MW Kinguélé Aval hydroelectric power plant on the Mbei River in Gabon.

GPC is a portfolio company of the Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund (FGIS), and Meridiam is an independent investment Benefit Corporation specialized in the development, financing and long-term management of sustainable public infrastructures.

Located 100 km east of the capital city of Libreville, bordering the Crystal Mountains National Park, the new facility is expected to supply the national network up to 205 GWh per year, including 13% of the electrical needs of Libreville. It will lead to the replacement of existing thermal capacity and will save more than 150,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. It will also benefit the electrification of rural areas such as Andock Foula, contributing to social inclusion in Gabon.

The purchase of construction equipment and materials from Gabonese companies will be favored, thus supporting the diversification, development and economic recovery of the country. During the construction period, 800 direct jobs will be created on the site. During the operation phase, 20 Gabonese professionals will be responsible for running the hydroelectric plant. It is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2024.

Total funding required to build the dam amounts to €179 million (US$247.8 million), under a 30-year concession agreement. Kinguélé Aval is carried by Asonha Energie, a project company owned 60% by Meridiam and 40% by GPC, and is supported by several major financing institutions: IFC, the World Bank’s private sector, the African Development Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.

Implementation of the dam was the subject of in-depth preliminary studies to mitigate its environmental and social impact. Asonha Energie has developed an action plan designed to generate biodiversity net gains, based on the “avoid-reduce-restore-compensate” method. This plan is carried out in close collaboration with the National Agency for the Protection of Nature (ANPN) and the Ministry of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment.

This project directly contributes to some United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs): building a resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization that benefits all and foster innovation (SDG 9); provide affordable and clean energy (SDG7), and promotion of decent work and economic growth for all (SDG8).

“The financing of this project is excellent news for Gabon. The mobilization of these stakeholders is an incentive for other African and international partners: Gabon is presenting structuring projects with a strong social impact,” said Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nzé, Minister of State and Minister of Energy and Hydraulic Resources. “As an essential component of the Transformation Acceleration Plan set out by the President of the Republic, His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba, the Kinguélé Aval hydroelectric power plant will reduce the price of energy supply and contribute to Gabon’s economic development.”

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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