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Unlocking Sustainable Success: GEF-funded TEST Niger’s Environmental Impact Spans Borders

Douala, Cameroon – October 17, 2023

In a resounding celebration of environmental innovation and collaborative effort, a regional event, “Liquid Assets: Unlocking Competitive Success through Resource Efficiency,” marked the culmination of the Global Environment Facility-funded Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology (TEST) Niger project executed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Against the picturesque backdrop of Douala, the largest city in Cameroon and a bustling industrial hub, the event brought together a dynamic assembly of over 100 stakeholders, uniting industry, government, and the financial sector.

Legacy Beyond Boundaries

The heart of the event was an unveiling of remarkable accomplishments from the TEST Niger project, which had a laser focus on engaging the industrial sector in transboundary water management across the nine riparian nations of the Niger River Basin.

Dr. Raymond Tavares, UNIDO Representative in Cameroon, and Mr. William Pierre Namvou Ngimatsia, the representative of the Minister of Economy, Planning, and Regional Development, set the stage with a warm welcome. As the day unfolded, participants were taken on a journey that traversed environmental challenges and triumphs across borders.

Harmonizing Pollution Control

Among the project’s highlights was the adoption of common ‘Standards for Discharge of Pollutants in the Niger River’ by all member states of the Niger River Basin Authority (NBA). This regulatory milestone, integrated into the Niger Basin Water Charter, ushers in a new era of transboundary pollution control. Dr. Sidy BA, a UNIDO Expert, underscored the importance of this achievement “The adoption of the common standards was a result of call for an action to harmonize pollution prevention legislature within the basin to prevent transboundary pollution between countries. At the same time, the harmonization enables industries to remove the environmental regulatory compliance barrier between states and expand their activities in the Niger basin countries, including within the free trade ECOWAS area encompassing seven of the nine Niger Basin Authority (NBA) member States.”

Targeting Pollution Hotspots

The TEST Niger project didn’t stop at regulation; it delved into pinpointing industrial pollution hotspots within the basin. Among 426 enterprises operating in the river basin, 86% belonged to five key sectors: Mining, Food & Beverages, Materials & Construction, Agribusiness, and Textiles & Dyes. To catalyze change, 19 pilot companies received technical assistance using the TEST audit tool, alongside the guidance of over 20 international and local consultants trained by UNIDO. The results were nothing short of astounding: an annual reduction potential of USD 12.71 million in Non-Product Output, a decrease in energy consumption by 21.3 GW, a water consumption cut of 38.619 m3, 8.620 tons less CO2 emissions, a 119.947 m3 drop in wastewater, and a solid waste reduction of 2032 tons. In addition, nearly 100 measures were recommended to the industries to improve their economic and environmental performance.

These measures, while requiring a total investment of USD 64 million in cutting-edge technologies and solar power, have a payback period ranging from 5 months to a maximum of 5 years.

Testimonials of Transformation

The impact of TEST-Niger rippled through companies like LAVANET, where Mrs. Samira Alfa attested to the process optimization measures enhancing vaccine production quality while reducing costs. Textile producer CICAM’s choice of a boiler fueled by recycled cotton shells promises cost-effective thermal energy generation. Achille Ngando, representing Les Sociétés Anonymes des Brasseries du Cameroun, described the TEST audit as a “systemic and comprehensive analysis,” recommending it to all enterprises.

Even beyond the pilot companies, TEST-Niger’s benefits reverberate. Mr. Moussa Diallo of Société Cotonnière de Kankan (SCK-SA) highlighted his discussions with other companies in their industrial cluster on the advantages of adopting the TEST methodology.

The Finance Factor

A deep dive into financial perspectives illuminated the crucial role the sector plays in propelling green industrialization in Africa. This is particularly pertinent to industrial Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), reliant on technology investments for competitiveness. Africa’s SMEs represent 90% of all businesses and roughly 80% of jobs, yet they grapple with an estimated USD 421 billion financing gap.

The representative of the African Development Bank, Mr. Gerald Esambe Njume presented financing windows targeting SMEs, climate action and technology transfer. While Mr. Esambe acknowledged the “limited capacity of African SMEs to mainstream climate change measures and environmental technologies into their operations” due to limited access to affordable finance. The representative of the West African Development Bank, Mr. Eric Amoussou, emphasized the “importance of developing technical capacities of commercial banks because of their key role in servicing the SME sector.”  All stakeholders acknowledged the significance of technical assistance approaches such as TEST to transfer environmentally sound approaches to industry in the basin.

Scaling Impact

The event’s grand finale found Agnes Chanut, the UNIDO Coordinator of TEST Niger, brimming with optimism. She remarked, “This regional gathering in Douala has opened our eyes to the boundless potential of TEST. Based on the enthusiasm we’ve encountered, we’re eager to see this project replicated and expanded across the region.”

Guardians of the Niger River

Water pollution and scarcity are existential threats to both the environment and the industries dependent on this precious resource. The TEST methodology empowers companies to enhance their competitiveness while becoming responsible stewards of the Niger River. In this dual strategy, everyone emerges as a winner.

Project information

Supported by the Global Environment Facility’s International Waters program, and executed by UNIDO, TEST-Niger constitutes Component 3 of the larger project titled “Improving Integrated Water Resource Management, knowledge-based management and governance of the Niger Basin and the Iullemeden-Taoudeni/Tanezrouft Aquifer System (NB-ITTAS)” implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environmental Programme. The NBA-ITTAs project is jointly executed by Niger Basin Authority (NBA), Observatory of the Sahar and Sahel (OSS), UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP), and UNIDO.

For more information, please contact the TEST-Niger Project Manager, Dr. Natalie Degger (n.degger@unido.org) or visit the project website: www.test-niger.com

 


 

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