The Water: A Business Imperative - Cameroon
place on May 4th, 2010 in Douala. The event was hosted by Guinness
The WBI Cameroon White Paper
Water: A Business Imperative
is a series of business
roundtables sponsored by Diageo in support of the UN Global Compact
CEO Water Mandate’s aim of advancing existing corporate practice
around water and identifying the role businesses can play in
supporting effective and fair water policies. Organised in
partnership with the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF),
the roundtables are being held across Africa (Cameroon, Ghana,
Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) to discuss corporate engagement
with water issues and to catalyse action around responsible water
management. Diageo and IBLF believe that the private sector has a
very important role to play in how the continent’s water is
Guinness Cameroon SA (GCSA) hosted the third roundtable in Douala
on 4 May 2010. Participants at the meeting included representatives
of Diageo Africa, GCSA, ALUCAM, AES-SONEL, GTS FILTREX, FEICOM,
UNILEVER, ADER, Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, ASPEF,
SAF-EAU Cameroon, Water for All, Volcanic, Life and Water
Development, MUTCARE, GEOFOR, SIC-CACAOS, CDE, AME, and other
public, private, and civil society organisations.
The ultimate objective of this initiative is to facilitate
corporate engagement in responsible water management. To understand
the local context for water issues, participants at Water: A
Business Imperative – Cameroon discussed the current state of water
public policy in the country and the difficulties they face around
water issues. They shared their own experiences addressing water
challenges and the reasons for their involvement in Water: A
Business Imperative. Finally, participants considered how they
could work together, and with other stakeholders, to move Cameroon
towards responsible water management in a manner that reduces
business risks and positively impacts communities and
These initial discussions will provide policy makers and
international organisations such as the United Nations with a basis
to begin engagement with key private sector water users across
Africa. The action points and partnerships arising from Water: A
Business Imperative are seen as a step towards creating an enabling
business environment in the context of climate change concerns,
water scarcity and water quality issues.
This paper summarises the action points, commitments and calls to
action agreed upon by the participants. It will be combined with
the outcomes from the other roundtables in Africa and will be
presented at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in June 2010 to
insert an African business perspective into global discussions on
water issues and on corporate engagement in water public
Summary of challenges for businesses
Businesses, government agencies, and non-governmental organisations
present at the forum all agreed on four key challenges in the water
sector of Cameroon. Sub challenges under each main challenge were
also identified and discussed.
- Inadequate legal framework for a conducive operating and legal
environment in the water sector, which affects the interest and
participation of stakeholders.
- Inadequate planning tools to help with effective decision
making and involvement, especially business and investment planning
tools and mechanism.
- Insufficient financing frameworks in the sector limiting the
level of funding required for projects and programmes.
- Lack of coordination of potential sources of investment to
leverage available resources in Cameroon.
- Inadequate investment in the provision of water supply
services. Even at 100% of operation, only 30% of Cameroonians can
get direct access to public water supply.
- Shortage of skills andcapacity within the water sector to meet
- Inadequate support for research and development on new
technologies to meet the challenges in the water sector.
- Insufficient tools and processes to meet the water treatment
demand in Cameroon in order to reduce the high levels of water
borne diseases. Diarrhoea alone is responsible for 10% of all
deaths in Cameroon.
4. Resource Protection
- Inadequate capacity to communicate necessary information and
raise awareness to most needy populations.
- Low implementation of policies and laws governing water
resources protection. n.
- A high level of non-revenue water in the utilities with over
40% of water unaccounted for in utilities.
- Climate change is exerting even more pressure on the very
limited water resources. Lake Chad has shrunk over 90% in 50 years
and may disappear in two decades.
- Inadequate awareness and involvement of stakeholders in
trans-boundary water resources management
Most of the organisations present at the forum were involved in a
water project either to improve supply for production internally,
to improve the quality of effluent from their plants, or to improve
water services in the communities they work. The major water
projects where businesses (and NGOs working for businesses)
expressed the benefits they got from the projects are as
Summary of Agreed Solutions
- Guinness Cameroon: Internally, it’s investing
over 7 billion FCFA to construct an effluent treatment plant to
treat waste and provide clean water to the environment. Through its
“Water of Life” programme, it has provided potable water to over
200,000 people in Cameroon by constructing boreholes and stand taps
in various localities and is also empowering communities to promote
hygiene and sanitation. These activities have enhanced the
business’ good relationship with communities in Cameroon.
- AES-SONEL & ALUCAM: Internally, ALUCAM uses
huge amount of water in production. Externally, it’s also focused
on providing water to schools and hygiene education in partnership
with AES SONEL, a hydropower company. About 15 communities have
benefited from this programme around the Sanaga maritime region in
The roundtable participants agreed that they should create a
network of businesses concerned about water issues in Cameroon and
committed to developing solutions to the challenges identified.
Thus the Cameroon Business Water Network (CBWN) was born.
Furthermore, the roundtable participants agreed that Guinness
Cameroon would lead, coordinate, and host the CBWN. With reference
to guidelines developed by the Global Compact CEO Water Mandate,
the CBWN will contribute to the development of effective water
public policies and strategies (by providing relevant data and
information on water use and community engagement), support the
monitoring of policy implementation, monitor business water and
wastewater benchmarking/management, support research and
development for sustainable solutions, and organise stakeholder
forums to engage all concerned.
Key partnerships and collaborations were proposed at the forum, and
some business commitments to improving their activities were
reiterated. These include:
Call to action
- Guinness Cameroon committed to improving access to safe
water to 200 thousand people in Cameroon; reducing the effluent
from its plants by 60%; investing about £7million in an effluent
treatment plant; improving its water use efficiency by 30%; and
reducing water wastage in its operations by 50%. All these to be
achieved by the end of 2010.
- Ministry of Energy and Water Resources - Guinness Cameroon
partnership aimed at educating the public on water resources
and environmental protection issues, and to support the search for
efficient and effective solutions to effluent treatment and
management in Cameroon.
- ALUCAM – Ministry of Energy and Water Resources
partnership aimed at the rehabilitation of SCAN Water stations
across Cameroon to help improve access to potable water for
- MUTCARE - Guinness Cameroon partnership aimed at the
implementation of the Guinness Water of Life project in Cameroon,
with a target of providing potable water to 200,000 people in rural
communities in Cameroon. The partnership will be focused on
contributing to the MDG Goal on water.
- Life and Water Development Group - Guinness Cameroon
partnership aimed at improving point of use water quality in
the communities by training users on the Bio-sand filters water
filtration system. This will help to reduce water borne diseases
- AES SONEL – ALUCAM partnership aimed at improving the
public awareness of water resources as it affects all aspects of
our lives. The awareness programme should help in the protection
and conservative use of water.
The participants agreed that government is responsible for water
policy development and regulation, investment in the water sector,
capacity development in the sector, monitoring of policy and
projects implementation and sector reform programmes. Participants
also agreed that the government will need the support of other key
stakeholders in the water sector. A call to action was agreed by
the participants for key stakeholders to support the government in
the improvement of water services to the public and to take the
right steps towards the attainment of the MGD goals on water. The
call to action was in line with the identified key challenges in
the sector as follows:
- Governance: a call to action to the Government (Ministry
of Energy and Water Resources) to develop tools for an effective
legal framework, long term planning (business plans and investment
plans), and sector financing mechanisms that will help attract key
stakeholders to fully participate in the sector; Business, to
support government in the development of appropriate financing
mechanism and business plans; NGOs to support the government in the
strengthening of human resources in the sector; External support
partners to support the government in the development of a
conducive legal and operating environment
- Investment: a call to action to the Government to
establish a Cameroon Water Trust Fund, where businesses, NGOs, and
Donor/External support partners can make contributions with the
funds being used to fill the investment gap in the water sector; to
partner with major companies in Cameroon for the improvement of
business and planning skills in the sector and in the development
of systems to help attract investment to the sector.
- Capacity: a call to action to NGOs to organise workshop
sessions to build capacity in the water sector of Cameroon; the
Government to establish an award for the business sector to
recognise businesses that are supporting the government and people
of Cameroon in the provision and management of water; Businesses to
establish scholarship programmes and support research and
development in the area of water resource management.
- Resource Protection: a call to action to the Government
to work with Universities and students in educating the public on
the need to protect and manage water resources and the impact of
climate change on Cameroon; Businesses to reduce water use,
minimise wastage, manage effluent responsibly in their operations,
and put in place a team to monitor agreed targets on water use and
effluent discharge and quality.