ODIAL SOLUTIONS Group announces its purpose statement: “Africa, the source of our commitments to the planet!”
The Supervisory Board of ODIAL SOLUTIONS (SAHER, UDUMA, UDUMA MALI, VERGNET BURKINA and VERGNET HYDRO) has officially approved the group’s purpose statement. This statement, written jointly with the various stakeholders, “defines the essence of ODIAL SOLUTIONS Group, its values and its role in society, beyond its basic economic function,” Group CEO Thierry BARBOTTE explained.
Long-term orientation of the group’s strategy
Inspired by fifty years of experience and experiences, “Africa, the source of our commitments to the planet!” focuses the group’s long-term strategy on designing, building and implementing sustainable drinking water and energy solutions for rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa. Here is the full text:
“Africa, the source of our commitments to the planet! We will draw on our fifty years’ experience in supplying water and energy as we continue to work with the populations in rural and isolated areas to tackle the major challenges they face. We aim to bring everyone a future where well-being and conservation of resources can coexist. Respect, adapt, innovate.”
Sustainable consideration of social and environmental issues
This purpose statement is an invitation to all the Group’s stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, partners and local areas – to take the sentiment to heart and make it happen.
By announcing its purpose statement, the group has publicly committed to making social and environmental issues a central and constant consideration when setting its strategy. This undertaking and the group’s transparency are perfectly in step with the French government’s recommendations, as set out in the PACTE Law (22 May 2019).
Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, Drinking water, Energy, environnement, Gestion, Management, Réservoirs, Services de l’eau, Solar, Water Supply Service, Water supply systems
Picture caption: Inhabitants of Mbuji Mayi drawing drinking water from a standpipe supplied by one of the two hybrid water networks within the framework of this project (photo credit: Enabel).
Converting fossil-fuel-powered generators to solar hybrid power systems: a high-potential market for the hydraulics sector in Africa
VERGNET HYDRO will convert to hybrid power two drinking water networks in Mbuji-Mayi city (Kasai-Oriental Province, DRC) by coupling the current Diesel generators to solar power plants to bring a continuous supply of water to more than 80,000 people. “Converting fossil-fuel-powered generators to solar hybrid power systems is without any doubt a high-potential market for the hydraulics sector in Africa. It is important that we start demonstrating the expertise VERGNET HYDRO has in this field now,” said Romain Dubreuil, Area Sales Manager for VERGNET HYDRO, enthusiastically. The hybrid systems are scheduled to be commissioned in December 2020.
The electricity network in Mbuji-Mayi is defective, inadequate and undeveloped in peri-urban areas. Consequently, drinking water networks are powered by Diesel generators. In this isolated province, however, fuel is expensive. This has a significant impact on the price of the water sold at water distribution points, which are in fact little used because they are financially beyond the reach of many local people. To provide wider access to drinking water, the Belgian development agency Enabel, financed by the Kingdom of Belgium, has opted to put in place a technology that is less damaging to the environment and offers lower, more controllable running costs: solar PV farms. “This pilot project is part of Enabel’s PROGEAU programme in DRC and is set to be rolled out to nine other drinking water networks in Mbuji-Mayi, to serve 350,000 people, and four networks in Maniema Province, to serve 100,000 people,” explained Fabian PROD’HOMME, the programme’s coordinator at Enabel.
Direct solar solutions without batteries
Under the project, direct solar solutions without batteries will be used to power the two water networks. To ensure continuity of supply 365 days per year, Diesel generators will take over from the solar generators where necessary, on very cloudy days and overnight. VERGNET HYDRO’s role in the project is to supply and install two solar farms, all the equipment required to connect the solar generators to the pumps, float valve systems for the tanks and pressure switch automatic regulation systems for the pumps. “The solar farms should produce at least 160m3 and 130m3 of water per day, with peak power of 37kWp and 32kWp,” explained Roman SNRECH from VERGNET HYDRO, who is in charge of the operational side of the project.
Training the network operators is another important aspect of the project. Indeed, it is essential to ensure that the network operators grouped together within the ASUREPs (drinking water network users’ associations) rapidly become self-sufficient in day-to-day management and equipment maintenance. “We will run four sessions with the technicians from each network and the inter-network technicians. We will equip them with tool kits (multimeters, assembly/disassembly tools, solarmeters, etc.) and provide a maintenance support service during the first few months,” said Roman SNRECH.
Drinking water, hand and foot pumps, hydro pump, Mali, Pompes à motricité humaine, Solar, Water supply systems
Mali: VERGNET HYDRO provides equipment to supply drinking water to more than 30,000 people in the Koulikoro and Sikasso regions
Picture caption: Manual pump and standpipe installed by the joint venture composed of VERGNET HYDRO and SEEBA for a drinking water supply contract awarded by UNICEF in the Region of Gao in Mali, in June 2019.
The company was selected thanks to the durability and quality of its products, and its after-sales service
VERGNET HYDRO has recently dispatched 17 manual pumps, 19 electrical pumping systems and storage and distribution equipment to its partner SEEBA SARL (Bamako, Mali) for a project that will supply drinking water to more than 30,000 people in the Koulikoro and Sikasso regions. “The quality and durability of VERGNET HYDRO’s products, together with the after-sales service the company offers, are definitely the deciding factors for a contract like this one,” said SEEBA’s Manager Modibo TAMBOURA.
SEEBA, a Malian SME, is delighted to have been awarded a contract by UNICEF to drill 19 new boreholes (16 to be equipped with manual pumps and three to be equipped with basic water supply systems), to convert 16 existing manual pumps into basic water supply systems, and to renovate one manual pump. These sites will supply drinking water to people in 29 rural communities, including 40 schools. All the sites will be up and running by July 2020.
VERGNET HYDRO and its partners bring each other business
“We have a contract with SEEBA under which they distribute our manual pumps and spare parts in Mali, and they frequently carry out the civil engineering for our rural hydraulics projects in the country too. Here, SEEBA is using VERGNET HYDRO equipment for a project that it is running itself. VERGNET HYDRO and its partners bring each other business. That is what makes our network so powerful”, insisted VERGNET HYDRO’s Area Sales Manager Najib BENAZOUZ.
Côte d’Ivoire: 17 drinking water supply systems to provide nearly 50,000 rural people with drinking water
Picture caption: Ivorian woman drawing water from a standpipe supplied by a drinking water supply systems set up by VERGNET HYDRO, in association with the SME MTK SERVICES, as part of the HYDRAULIC AND SANITATION PROGRAMME FOR THE MILLENNIUM (PHAM) in 2017.
VERGNET HYDRO is developing its construction work expertise
Côte d’Ivoire’s National Board for Drinking Water (ONEP) has awarded a contract for the construction of 17 drinking water supply systems to a joint venture of two SMEs: ABEDA (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) which will lead the project and VERGNET HYDRO. The contract will supply drinking water to nearly 50,000 rural people in the north of Côte d’Ivoire. “VERGNET HYDRO’s role in this is not limited to the design, supply and installation of the systems. Through our subsidiary SAHER (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), we will also carry out a part of the construction work. We intend to develop this expertise for future projects,” says Thierry BARBOTTE, Managing Director of VERGNET HYDRO.
The contract is for the construction of 12 electrical drinking water supply systems and five hybrid systems, either solar/electric or solar/thermal, in the Tchologo, Poro, Bagoué, Kabadougou and Folon regions. “The five solar farms will generate power of between 4 and 7 kWp, with Total Dynamic Heads of between 60 and 110 m,” explains Joël MENAGER, Bids and Projects Officer for VERGNET HYDRO.
A budget of 2.8 billion CFA francs (4.3 million euros)
“We expect all supply systems to be operational by December 2020, as stipulated in the specifications we were given,” adds Baptiste GADENNE, Area Sales Manager at VERGNET HYDRO. Co-financed by Côte d’Ivoire’s Hydraulics Ministry, the Islamic Development Bank and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (through its BID-UEMOA programme), the project is expected to cost 2.8 billion CFA francs (4.3 million euros).
The urgent need to face the facts
For more than 40 years we have been working alongside our Governmental, Institutional and Private partners in sub-Saharan Africa to bring water to rural and isolated populations. Billions of euros have been invested in the sector, thousands of wells have been dug, and as many hand pumps installed, which are meant to provide drinking water to hundreds of millions of people.
Considerable efforts have been expended, both on the ground and in the offices, to achieve the set objective. Yet the upshot of this today leaves a sour taste in the mouth: it is not working as we would like it to! Why is this?
It is all too easy to accuse the Governments or Institutions of deficiencies or even incompetence, to lambaste the beneficiaries for allegedly not understanding what they have to gain, or to accuse the private sector of wanting to make money at the expense of quality. It is all too simple to disclaim responsibility for the failures by finding someone else, a scapegoat, to take the blame. Unfortunately, this serves absolutely no purpose other than finding excuses for those who are meant to find the solutions.
We are all responsible for the situation: players and spectators alike. First of all, the water issue has not been properly assimilated. How is it possible that we can still, today, be discussing whether or not drinking water deserves to be a dedicated goal among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? How is it possible that we can spend months, or even years, to put in place contracts, via interminable procedures, for projects that are qualified as urgent? How is it possible to sell one’s soul to the point of supplying and signing off defective material and neglecting work to satisfy “lowest-bidder” criteria, often culminating in the construction of a system that you know quite well will only work for a short time, or will even never work at all?
Everything that has been put in place to avoid that today constitutes a bureaucratic labyrinth, a stack of procedures that stymie the stakeholders without protecting the desperate rural populations.
Alongside this, how is it possible – as a beneficiary – to be able to expect a better service without being ready to pay a fair price?
We need to react! We need to look at how things really are! We need to simplify things! We all need to make progress to avoid coming across in 2030 as laughing stocks, when faced with a deplorable record concerning the degree of fulfilment of the SDGs, in particular the SDG dedicated to water and sanitation, which would leave millions of people in need and cause everyone to lose face. We are ready, and others are too, I’m sure, to address this challenge. These are urgent times!
I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!
Chairman, ODIAL SOLUTIONS
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.
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