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UK development finance agency invests in new fund for green African urban development

22nd March 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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UK State development finance institution British International Investment (BII) has announced that it is committing €20-million to the Meridiam Group’s TURF (The Urban Resilience Fund), which is dedicated to projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Meridiam is an independent investment public benefit and asset management group, focused on the development, financing and long-term management of sustainable public mobility, public services and low-carbon infrastructure. It is based in Paris, in France (hence the UK commitment being in euros, not sterling).

TURF is focused on funding and supporting the design of climate-focussed urban infrastructure in sub-Saharan African countries. It seeks to make African urban public infrastructure more affordable and reliable, while improving safety and ensuring climate resilience.

“The UK is committed to supporting the development and climate-resilience of infrastructure services in African cities,” affirms UK Minister of State for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell (his position is roughly equivalent to that of a Deputy Minister in South Africa). “I am pleased to see [BII] commit to the Fund  and we are confident that their involvement will help attract much-needed additional funding from the private sector in support of vital, clean and green infrastructure in the region.”

“We are very pleased with the longstanding support from BII across our various African strategies,” states Meridiam partner and deputy CEO Mathieu Peller. “BII’s investment in TURF is a key milestone in our partnership to deliver sustainable and impactful infrastructure projects which are needed by cities throughout the continent. TURF will be essential in addressing the multiple resilience challenges faced by cities, such as climate change, sustainable resource management and social inclusion.”

More specifically, TURF will invest in urban mobility, energy transition, built community environments and waste management systems. Urban mobility will include bus rapid transit systems and modern cable cars. Energy transition will include microgrids management. And built community environments will include smart city solutions, innovative street lighting and electric vehicle charging.

The fund will help achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9, concerning industry, innovation and infrastructure; SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities); and SDG 13 (climate action). The lack of existing infrastructure in Africa’s cities – the fastest-growing cities in the world – creates the opportunity for them to become the models for the implementation of green public infrastructure.

BII has previously invested in two previous Meridiam funds, known as MIAF I and MIAF II (MIAF standing for Meridiam Infrastructure Africa Fund). These successfully invested in both greenfield and brownfield infrastructure projects. These included the construction of 60 MW of solar energy capacity (divided between two solar plants) in Senegal.

“We are delighted to be an anchor investor in Meridiam’s latest fund and will be supporting Meridiam in its efforts to reach its first close,” enthuses BII head of infrastructure and climate Holger Rothenbusch. “The Fund will deliver clear benefits to local communities at a time when there has never been a more urgent need to invest in sustainable infrastructure to increase climate resilience. This Fund is a ‘first-of-its-kind’ in the market and will contribute to creating progressive solutions that ensure that citizens benefit from the rapid urbanisation taking place in African cities.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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