ODIAL SOLUTIONS: the Group’s staff and 21 partners (14 nationalities) meet in Yamoussoukro to anticipate together evolutions in the water sector
The ODIAL SOLUTIONS group and its subsidiaries VERGNET HYDRO and UDUMA are bringing together their teams and 21 representatives of partner companies from 14 Sub-Saharan African countries in Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast), from 20 to 23 November 2019. “This seminar, full of brainstorming sessions, information sessions and cultural outings, strengthens our powerful and dynamic network of local partners. It is an opportunity to present to them the group’s vision, the evolutions of our product and service ranges, good after-sales service practices… but also to anticipate together the evolutions of the sector”, explains Thierry BARBOTTE, Chairman of the ODIAL SOLUTIONS group.
Imagining new models to finance the historical market and… entering new markets
The equation is as follows: sub-Saharan Africa (1) remains the region in the world with the lowest drinking water access rates, 2) it will have large rural populations for decades to come, 3) is not expected to suffer from overall groundwater shortages by 2040, but… (4) can no longer rely on the historical support of Official Development Assistance, which has drastically reduced its funding for rural sub-Saharan water over the years. “The demand for safe drinking water exists. ODIAL SOLUTIONS and its partners have the technical expertise to meet these demands. We are therefore collectively imagining new models to finance such projects: the UDUMA service, export credits, collaboration with impact investors, etc.”
This event is also an opportunity to jointly consider new markets. “We accumulate experience beyond village hydraulics. So do our partners. By identifying these experiences, we strive at combining our respective assets to multiply, hand in hand, our business opportunities.”
Ivory Coast: historical country and country of the future for ODIAL SOLUTIONS
For more than 40 years, Ivory Coast has been one of the major customers of the solutions developed by ODIAL SOLUTIONS. Today, nearly one in four Ivorians (6.2 million Ivorians) have access to drinking water via solutions proposed by the Group. “The Group’s local subsidiary, SAHER (5 employees), is also experiencing strong growth in its activities and is actively involved in the group’s R&D. All these arguments motivated the organization of this seminar in Yamoussoukro.”
Burkina Faso: SAGEMCOM ENERGY & TELECOM relies on VERGNET BURKINA to supply 120,000 villagers with electricity
5 photovoltaic sites, 1,820 solar modules and a power of 587.5 kWp
“120,000 inhabitants of the Nord and Centre-Nord regions of Burkina Faso will be supplied with continuous electricity from the beginning of November by the 5 new solar photovoltaic power plants set up by the joint-venture associating the Burkinabe company VERGNET BURKINA (a subsidiary of VERGNET HYDRO) with the French firm SAGEMCOM ENERGY & TELECOM,” enthuses Jean-Christophe KI, Managing Director of VERGNET BURKINA. These installations are part of the major eco-electrification project for rural areas in the Nord and Centre-Nord regions, managed by the Burkinabe company Société d’Infrastructures collectives (SINCO) and co-financed by the European Union, the National Office for Water and Sanitation (ONEA), the Electrification Development Fund (FDE), the Société Nationale d’Electricité du Burkina (SONABEL), Solidarité Internationale pour le Développement et l’Investissement (SIDI) and SINCO.
The 1,820 solar modules of these 5 photovoltaic sites, located in the villages of Talisma, Saye, Ridimbo and Minima (Northern region) and Noaka (Central-Northern region), generate a power of 587.5 kWp (117.5 kWp on each site). SAGEMCOM ENERGY & TELECOM, lead partner in this project, provided all the equipment. “VERGNET BURKINA’s teams, composed of civil engineering technicians, electrotechnicians and experienced photovoltaic workers, were responsible for earthworks, civil engineering, building construction, solar field assembly and equipment installation.”
Authentic factors in the local economic development
The villagers benefit from this access to electricity via their SINCO subscriptions to the low-voltage grid. The 5 sites are connected to the grid of SONABEL, into which they inject their surplus electricity. “These facilities are authentic factors in the local economic development. Of course, they provide extra comfort for the home. But they also guarantee a continuous source of energy for local mills, mechanical welding workshops, ice production, etc.”
Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, Drinking water, environnement, Gestion, Guinea, International, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Sénégal, Services de l’eau
VERGNET HYDRO and MASCARA RENEWABLE WATER to offer a solution for the production of drinking water from brackish water, for Sub-Saharan Africa
From pumping unsafe water to distributing drinking water at the tap
Pictures caption: Solar-based drinking water supply solution from brackish water implemented by VERGNET HYDRO, MASCARA RENEWABLE WATER and AFRIDEV MATI in Manhiça (Mozambique) in 2018 (photos credits: the top-right one, Titouan GAREL; the three others, VERGNET HYDRO).
VERGNET HYDRO and the French SME MASCARA RENEWABLE WATER (Chartres) have just signed an exclusive partnership agreement for the implementation of a drinking water supply solution from brackish water in Sub-Saharan Africa. “The objective of this partnership is to pool our skills, strengths and networks in order to offer a turnkey solution to governments, donors and NGOs: from pumping unsafe water to distributing drinking water at the tap,” explains Thierry BARBOTTE, Managing Director of VERGNET HYDRO.
The level of salinity of the collected groundwater, which does not meet the drinking water standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a regular problem in rural water projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Salt water consumption causes dehydration and kidney disease. In addition, brackish water damages pumping equipment and pipes, which corrodes them, and causes metal particles to circulate in water systems, which on its turn may cause cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
OSMOSUN® complements VERGNET HYDRO’s 40 years of experience and innovation
MASCARA has developed an industrial technology for desalination of brackish water by solar energy, with very low operating costs, from 100 FCFA to 130 FCFA (€0.15 to €0.20) per m3, and electricity consumptions in the range of 1.2 to 1.5 kWh per m3. “MASCARA’s OSMOSUN® solar desalination units are based on reverse osmosis technology, and are all the more innovative, economical and ecological because they do not require a battery to store energy. We are indeed the first in the world to offer a solar-based solution,” says enthusiastically Marc VERGNET, President of MASCARA.
Within the framework of this partnership, this innovative technology is combined with VERGNET HYDRO’s 40 years of experience and innovation in rural hydraulics in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our joint offer combines OSMOSUN® with VERGNET HYDRO’s energy production systems (solar fields and emergency generators), raw water pumping systems (exhauster columns, drill heads and manifolds) and storage and distribution systems (water towers, pipes, valves, etc.),” explains Etienne DECHERF, Chief Sales and Operations Officer of VERGNET HYDRO.
A first and fruitful collaboration in Mozambique
The signing of this contract is the result of a first and fruitful collaboration in Mozambique. In 2018, VERGNET HYDRO and MASCARA set up solar-powered drinking water supply systems with desalination in 6 villages (7,200 inhabitants) in the Gaza Province. The two French companies relied on the expertise of the Mozambican company AFRIDEV MATI (Maputo) to carry out the construction works and to manage the systems setup.
The VERGNET HYDRO/MASCARA offer will initially be launched in 8 Sub-Saharan African countries: Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal. The contract also includes testing this overall offer in Asia, starting with Bangladesh.
Solar-powered pumping in geologically and geographically challenging sites
Picture caption: Rural people drawing water from a standpipe, lately installed by ECM as part of the BORNEFONDEN project in the Région des Plateaux, similar to those which are going to be installed in the context of the current project (photo credit: ECM).
The Togolese Ministry for Water, Rural Equipment and Village Water Systems announced that it has awarded a solar-powered water supply and installation contract to the joint-venture composed of the companies VERGNET HYDRO and ECM (Lomé, Togo), aiming at providing more than 2,000 rural people from the Région des Savanes (Northern Togo) with drinking water. “The geological and geographical features of these 5 sites are challenging. Bringing drinking water to these populations, relying on solar energy, is the opportunity to demonstrate the full extent of the technical know-how of our two companies“, says Thierry BARBOTTE, Managing Director for VERGNET HYDRO.
The project consists of installing solar-powered drinking water supply systems in the villages of Nadiégou, Polougou (Tône Prefecture), Kankangbane (2 sites, including one school) and Djalière (Tandjoaré Prefecture), on particularly steep areas. “The boreholes are very deep. The pumps will be installed at the depth of between 165 and 220 meters…“, specifies Joël MENAGER, Bids and Projects Officer for VERGNET HYDRO.
To reduce the geographical marginalization in these villages
This project also has an important social dimension. Future users of these facilities today have limited access to the hydraulic equipment of their own villages, due to their geographical isolation. “The introduction of the new equipment significantly reduces the geographical marginalization in these villages while relieving the many challenges they are facing,” states Dominique GUNN, Sales Manager for ECM.
With a budget of 194 million CFA francs (€295,600), this contract falls within the framework of the PROJECT TO IMPROVE HEALTH CONDITIONS IN SCHOOL AND RURAL ENVIRONMENTS IN THE SAVANES REGION (PASSCO) led and funded by the FRENCH DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (AFD). “All the equipment will be installed and functional in September 2019”, concludes Gwenolé LE LAGADEC, Business Manager for VERGNET HYDRO.
Drinking water, hand and foot pumps, hydro pump, Mali, Pompes à motricité humaine, Réservoirs, Solar, Water supply systems, Water tank line
20 schools from the Region of Gao to be equipped
Picture caption: Pupils drawing water from a HYDRO INDIA 60 manual pump in the ALZANABANDIA ZABA school in Gao (photo credit: UNICEF MALI/2019/DIARRA).
The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF announced that it has awarded a supply and installation contract to the joint-venture composed of the companies VERGNET HYDRO and SEEBA (Bamako, Mali) for the construction of drinking water supply systems for more than 12,000 rural people in the Region of Gao in Mali. “We are proud to provide these people in the centre of armed conflicts, including pupils from 20 schools, with safe water”, confides Thierry BARBOTTE, Managing Director for VERGNET HYDRO. All infrastructure will be installed and fully operational by June 2019.
With a budget of 385 million CFA francs (580,000 euros), the project comprises the drilling of 22 boreholes, the rehabilitation of 5 boreholes, the setup of 3 solar-powered piped water supply systems, the construction of 17 standpipes and the installation of 24 manual pumps (HYDRO INDIA 60 and HPV100). “The company SEEBA is in charge of the civil engineering and VERGNET HYDRO provides all equipment”, specifies Najib BENAZOUZ, Area Sales Manager for VERGNET HYDRO.
A contribution to the local economy
“Of course, managing this kind of operations in these areas requires local staff. This contribution to the local economy is a major dimension of this project”, concludes Modibo TAMBOURA, Managing Director for SEEBA.
VERGNET HYDRO’s first piped water scheme in Benin is going to provide 35,000 rural people with drinking water
41 boreholes, 15 water towers, 82 standpipes…
Picture caption: Photograph of a standpipe similar to the 82 ones which are going to be installed for this project. This standpipe was set up by AGIRE in Agbatitoé (Togo), for a project funded by the French association AQUASSISTANCE (photo credits: AGIRE SARL).
The Beninese National Agency for drinking water in rural areas (ANAEPMR) announced that it has awarded a supply and installation contract to the joint-venture composed of the companies FORAG SA (Cotonou, Benin, leader), AGIRE SARL (Cotonou, Benin) and VERGNET HYDRO for the construction of drinking water supply systems for more than 35,000 rural people. The joint-venture is to build 7 piped drinking water supply schemes in the Department of Borgou. « We are starting a new chapter of VERGNET HYDRO’s history in Benin. We have worked here since the 1980s and this country is one of the 3 first destinations of our manual pumps. Today, more than one Beninese out of two (5,6 million rural people) draws its drinking water from VERGNET HYDRO’s manual pumps. This contract is our first piped water scheme project in the country », says enthusiastically Thierry BARBOTTE, Managing Director for VERGNET HYDRO.
« Benin’s rural water supply sector is in transition. We hope that this project, amounting to 5 billion CFA francs (7.62 million euros), will be the first of many other water supply system projects in Benin for VERGNET HYDRO », adds Baptiste GADENNE, Area Sales Manager for VERGNET HYDRO. Within this project, FORAG SA implements and drills 37 boreholes, and rehabilitates 4 boreholes. AGIRE SARL SARL supplies a part of the pipes, installs the pipes and handles the civil engineering: 15 water towers, 82 standpipes and the water pipes. VERGNET HYDRO supplies and installs the electromechanical equipment (41 submerged pumps, 43 power generators, 7 chlorination systems, etc.), as well as a part of the water pipes.
Equipment designed over the course of project implementation
VERGNET HYDRO’s responsiveness and expertise are among the key factors for the project’s success. « The inaugurations of the 7 networks are planned for September 2019. As the boreholes features (depths, flow rates, etc.) are currently unknown, the actual design of the schemes and sending of the equipment will be done gradually over the course of the project », specifies Joël MENAGER, Project Officer for VERGNET HYDRO.
The 7 piped schemes to be constructed are part of Benin’s largest water supply systems project ever, with a total of 24 systems to be constructed.
- Implementing an innovative drinking water service combining desalination and solar energy in Mozambique,
- Subscribing to a supplementary health insurance for the employees of our Ivorian subsidiary and their families,
- Digitizing the internal HR processes,
- Promoting a transparent drinking water management solution for rural Africa…
Some rich and various examples which contribute to the development of the ODIAL SOLUTIONS group’s activities. These initiatives illustrate the social, societal and environmental impact of our activities.
This report lists our main CSR actions in 2018 and confirms our commitment to the 10 principles of the UNITED NATIONS GLOBAL COMPACT.
I wish you a pleasant reading.
ODIAL SOLUTIONS CEO
To know more :
CSR Report/Communication on Progress 2019
The desire to improve water services in the small villages of Africa is impelling more and more stakeholders to look increasingly towards solar pumping in stead of manual pumping. The objective is laudable, since the aim is to facilitate the lives of users by means of a more modern technical solution. However, at a time in which the sustainability of systems is put forward as being paramount, it may be useful to analyse the situation by taking into account both the technical and the economic aspects simultaneously, rather than considering them separately.
Solar energy: an energy with limits to its durability
Free and infinitely available on a human scale: these features of solar energy are necessary prerequisites for the sustainability of solar systems, although they alone do not suffice.
Let us consider first the technical aspects. Even if solar panels come with a 25-year guarantee for the preservation of 80% of the productivity rate, with complex implementing modalities, the other system components offer, at best, 1 to 2-year guarantees, with lifetimes that remain as yet undetermined. Replacement of these components must therefore be taken into account.
From an economic point of view, beyond the initial investment which remains more significant compared to manual pumps, replacing these technical components and delegating operation and management to a professional come at a cost that has to be borne by the users, and will therefore be reflected in the water service tariffs incorporated in the selling price of the water service.
Reliability and viability: the conditions of a water service
While the maintenance costs of manual pumps are relatively under control today, covering these costs by water service sales remains dependent on deploying reliable technical solutions and optimised management systems. Operating costs of a solar-powered system therefore need to be estimated, along with the impact of an improved service on consumption.
Since maintaining an affordable water service tariff is necessary to ensure no one is excluded, the viability and the economic equilibrium of the system depend on the balance between the operating costs and the water consumption at the point of distribution.
Envisaging the systematic replacement of manual pumps with solar pumps, without resolving this issue, would at best be risky, at worst catastrophic. Under these conditions, how can we speak of sustainability if we disregard the system’s economic equation? Would this not mean reproducing the errors of the past?
An equation to be resolved technologically and economically
Solar energy is undoubtedly a solution for the future of Africa, but it is not a miracle cure. We need to maintain a rational approach, and above all qualify the economic limits of the model. For now, our estimates, based on the current solar technologies and average consumption, leave us sceptical about the economic viability of solar solutions for small centres comprising just a few hundred, or indeed a few thousand inhabitants. Drawing on our experience, the experience of our partners and our daily observations of the users, we are currently seeking solutions to solve this difficult equation and determine the limits and conditions of viability of these systems. It is only by doing this that we will be able to extend more widely, and without compromising the sustainability of the systems and services, the use of solar pumping solutions, including to small villages of only 400 inhabitants.
It is important to remember ‘more haste, less speed!’
I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!
CEO, ODIAL SOLUTIONS
269 water points fed by solar-powered pumps
Picture caption: Photographs of a solar field, a water tower and a pump manifold constructed by VERGNET HYDRO, MTCS and ATC MALI in Mali in 2011 for a project of 11 hydraulic centers, similar to the 20 centers subject of this article.
« We have just received the 170 km of pipes that will enable us to provide 100,000 rural people with drinking water in the KOULIKORO Region (Mali) », states Thierry BARBOTTE, General Director for VERGNET HYDRO. Funded by the German bank KREDITANSTALT FÜR WIEDERAUFBAU (KfW) and led by the Malian NATIONAL AGENCY FOR HYDRAULICS (DIRECTION NATIONALE DE L’HYDRAULIQUE) and the German company GAUFF CONSULTANTS (the technical coordinator), this project is carried out by a joint-venture gathering VERGNET HYDRO and the Malian companies MTCS and ATC MALI. They are committed to installing 269 water points in 20 localities, fed by solar-powered pumps.
« VERGNET HYDRO wrote the initial technical studies and has provided the equipment (pipes, pumping systems, taps and chlorination system), ATC MALI is providing the 20 water towers and MTCS handles all the construction works », specifies Najib BENAZOUZ, Business Manager for VERGNET HYDRO. The project budget, divided over 2 lots of 10 localities each, amounts to 5.5 million euros (3.6 billion CFA francs).
First inaugurations planned for the end of 2018
« This is a 100%-solar project. But, this is also a 100%-treatment project. All pumped water is treated by chlorination before being stored in the water towers and drawn by the villagers », adds Thomas CANDELORO, Projects Manager for VERGNET HYDRO. Indeed, a crucial part of the project consists of constructing buildings next to the water towers which will house the chlorine production (electrolysis process) and injection processes. Furthermore, 5 of the localities will be equipped with power generators.
This 12-month long project started in February 2018. The first inaugurations are planned for the end of 2018. « We have a lot on our plate but we are going to respect the deadlines, because our joint-venture is well organised. Actually, we had already constructed 11 equivalent hydraulic centers in Mali together with MTCS and ATC MALI, back in 2011 », concludes Thierry BARBOTTE.
A first experience in the treatment of surface waters
The Ministry for Energy and Hydraulics in the Republic of Guinea just announced the awarding of the supply and installation contract to the joint venture composed of ALTECH SAFS (Liège, Belgium) and VERGNET HYDRO (subsidiary of the ODIAL SOLUTIONS Group, Orléans, France) for the construction of drinking water supply systems for 60,000 villagers belonging to 120 remote rural communities spread in the 8 Guinean administrative regions. The 120 sites will be operating by July 2021. “This project is the first experience of VERGNET HYDRO, historical player for groundwater pumping and small water piping in Sub-Saharan Africa, in the surface waters valorization”, says enthusiastically Thierry BARBOTTE, Managing Director for VERGNET HYDRO.
Why treat surface water (village wells, rivers, marshes, etc.) instead of exploiting groundwater, which requires less treatment? Simply because the possibility of drilling on each of these 120 sites has already been rejected. “Either these villages are inaccessible to the equipment that would allow drilling, because they are very remote and their access roads are too complex, or their hydrogeological conditions do not allow satisfactory drilling boreholes“, specifies Baptiste GADENNE, business manager for VERGNET HYDRO.
120 HYDROPUR treatment units
HYDROPUR treatment units, designed and manufactured by ALTECH SAFS, will be set up at each of the 120 sites to treat these surface waters. 20 of which are already in operation in Guinea. The HYDROPUR installations occupy about 20 m² and combine the techniques of treatment by coagulation, flocculation, disinfection by bleach, then filtration on sand and activated carbon. Each unit can treat 1 to 2 m3 per hour, i.e. supply water up to 250 to 1000 people. “The main advantages of a HYDROPUR station are the autonomy, because the treatment is done gravitarily, its robustness, because its structure is in stainless steel, and its simplicity of maintenance“, adds Claude LOMBART, ALTECH SAFS Board Member.
In this project, VERGNET HYDRO identifies, designs and equips the surface water catchment points, locates the HYDROPUR units, organizes the logistical access modalities to the sites for all the equipment, sets up the devices for fetching water to the stations (pumping, piping, solar energy, etc.), and coordinates the construction of the HYDROPUR installation platform. “Taken into consideration the remoteness of the sites and the water quantities expected on each of them (average of 8 m3 to 10m³ per day), we have agreed to systematically convey surface water to the stations by solar pumping“, explains Joël MENAGER, Project Manager at VERGNET HYDRO.
A network of mechanics and After-Sales Service shops
Final site selection is scheduled for early July 2018. Whatever the site, the first priority is to establish the water catchment and treatment points. “Before identifying the technical features of each site (topography, geology, hydrology, position of villages in relation to water sources, in order not to disturb farming and/or forest areas, etc.), we will of course go into contact with the populations to integrate their expectations and habits. The social intermediation phase will be determining for the success of such a project calls“, summarizes Baptiste GADENNE. The works will then be carried out in partnership with the Guinean company ENTREPRISE VERGNET GUINEE (Kindia, Republic of Guinea), historic local partner of VERGNET HYDRO, and with the support of National Agency of Hydraulics (Ministry of Energy and Hydraulics of the Republic of Guinea), delegated project manager for this project.
To ensure the durability of the installations, the joint venture will set up a network of repairers and after-sales services shops, similar to the VERGNET HYDRO product after-sales service model. The associations of users of these water points will be able to count on the skills of local repairers, trained ad certified to ensure the maintenance and repairs of their installations: renewal of treatment consumables, equipment maintenance, etc. The project therefore includes a substantial training component for these repairers. “The proximity and the qualification of these craftsmen repairers guarantee a reactive and effective after-sales service”, emphasises Adama DIALLO, General Manager of ENTREPRISE VERGNET GUINEE.
The transfer of the HYDROPUR technology
The “training” component of the project also includes the structuring of user associations into Water Utility Management Units (UGSPE). Villagers will be trained in the routine maintenance of a HYDROPUR and accompanied in the organization of this collegial and regular management. “Basically, this project aims to transfer HYDROPUR technology to Guinea. Not only we are going to train local technicians in the installation and management of HYDROPUR, but we will also gradually implement in Guinea the production of all parts for drinking water treatment plants“, states Claude LOMBART.
The project is financed by an interest-free loan from the Belgian government to the Guinean government. It will last 5 years and will include a first phase of installation of all 120 sites (3 years) and a second phase of site monitoring (over 2 years), knowing that the Belgian development agency ENABEL will follow the project and carry out a general mid-term evaluation. “The timetable is ambitious because we have to deal with the uniqueness of each of the sites, the rainy seasons, the distances between villages, etc.”, concludes Thierry BARBOTTE.