Meridiam’s Africa fund backs off-grid investment platform

Newly established NEoT Capital will lead the charge in a market it says could be worth ‘several billion euros’.

French fund manager Meridiam has teamed up with EDF to back an off-grid investment platform in Africa that will see “hundreds of millions of euros” spent over the next five years.

The investment, made through Meridiam’s €300 million Infrastructure Africa Fund, will see it partner with the recently formed NEoT Capital to build-out distributed renewable energy projects, with a focus on battery technologies, across Africa.

The platform will aim to replace some of the widespread diesel capacity with solar power and storage solutions and will provide both financial and strategic support to the projects it invests in.

“Distributed renewable energies have a major role to play in Africa, as they will both provide electricity access to millions of homes, and accelerate the transition to renewable energy solutions,” said Pierre Devillard, CEO of NEoT Capital. “With partners of this calibre, we hope that NEoT Offgrid Africa will have a major impact on this market by providing the right tools to technology and project developers so that they can scale their development.”

The move marks the beginning of NEoT Capital’s international expansion following its foundation in April this year. The vehicle was formed by EDF, Caisse des Dépots and Forsee Power and the French trio were joined by Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation this week. It is focused on the development of storage technologies and electric mobility.

The Meridiam fund has previously invested in two solar projects in Senegal and most recently closed €215 million financing on two airport projects in Madagascar. It has also been shortlisted with VINCI for a PPP highway project in Kenya.

The 2015-vintage vehicle has been supported by Allianz and Proparco, as well as with €30 million from the European Investment Bank and $32 million from the UK’s CDC Group. As at the end of June this year, there remained a $27 million outstanding commitment to the fund from CDC.