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Water Stewardship in the Niger River Basin is Everyone’s Business

Abidjan – On May 12, 2023, UNIDO, in partnership with the Niger Basin Authority (NBA),   technical experts and pilot industries from the Niger River Basin, gathered for an important regional event to share and disseminate results and experiences of the Project TEST-Niger.  Titled “Transferring Environmentally Sound Technologies to Industry in the Niger River Basin”, the event took place on the margins of the International Fair for Environment and Sustainable Development JFAC 2023,

Speakers included Eugène YEO, Directeur General des Ressources en Eau, (Ministere des Eaux et Forets), UNIDO, NBA, African Development Bank, Oikocredit, technical experts, and  pilot companies who shared their experiences with 43 participants primarily industrial sector companies in four panels focusing on water quality standards and regulations, technology transfer, and access to financing.

Applying an “audit” approach, the TEST-Methodology identified solutions to improve the economic and environmental performance of industrial SME producers (up to 250 employees) through resource efficiency monitoring and access to investment financing into environmentally sound technologies ranging between 1.000 – 30.000.000 EUR.

“We  are going to apply the TEST-Methodology to all our production sites“, said Jean Claude Sigrist, Managing director of Ivoire Cotton, one of project’s pilot enterprises, and one of the main players in Côte d’Ivoire’s cotton market. Adéyèmi Worou, Deputy Industrial Director at SODECO stated that “we would advise other companies to adopt the TEST-Methodology” 

During the panel discussion on finance, Yves KOMACLO, Investment Manager representing Oikokredit pointed out that besides access to finance and technology, insufficient access to electric power and legislation enabling selling back surplus power to the grid, still pose a major obstacle to scaling up industrial production, and that investment into solar energy as baseload or complementary power source can play a major role in achieving sustainable industrial development in the region.

Mr. Tidiane BOYE, UNIDO Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, noted that existing partnership agreement between UNIDO and AfDB could potentially include cooperation on project financing developed by industrial consortia of companies in the Niger Basin. He emphasized that it is important to “build synergies between TEST-Niger and other UNIDO initiatives in the textile sector”.

Dr. Natalie DEGGER, TEST-Niger Project Manager, and Industrial Development Officer at the Directorate of Technical Cooperation, division of Circular Economy and Environmental Protection at UNIDO stressed the need to continue to facilitate investment into initiatives/efforts related to resource efficiency in industry to further advance water conservation in River Basins.  Dr. Degger suggested that a novel business plan be created whereby with NBA could provide a service to all private sector industrial companies in the Niger Basin through continued access to the new cadre of UNIDO trained TEST-Consultants in West Africa. This would sustain partnerships with the industrial sector operating in the Basin beyond the completion of the TEST-Niger Project.

“Enabling industries to adopt Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production methods that prevent environmental degradation and resource depletion in the region is a winning strategy for all”.

The TEST-NIGER project, executed by UNIDO, has realized significant results including the adoption of ‘Standards for Pollution Discharge in the Niger River’ as an Annex to the NBA Charter, as well as identification of pollution hotspots and cooperation with 20+ pilot industries primarily in the agro-food and textile sectors in 9 countries in the Niger Basin: Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Guinea.

About TEST-Niger

The TEST-Niger project constitutes Component 3 of the larger Global Environment Facility funded initiative titled “Improving Integrated Water Resource Management, knowledge-based management and governance of the Niger Basin and the Iullemeden-Taoudeni/Tanezrouft Aquifer System (ITTAS)” which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environmental Programme.  

TEST-Niger is uniquely focused on the SME and green climate sectors, as it targets the upgrading of production processes of midsize industrial companies through transferring to more Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Methods (RECP). Through this approach, TEST-Niger not only supports industries to increase their production efficiency, but it enables businesses to become proactive water stewards of the Niger River by reducing their water consumption and industrial pollution loads discharged into the Basin and surrounding aquifer system.

For more information on TEST-Niger

Contact: Dr. Natalie Degger

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