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develoPPP.de: sustainable development partnerships in practice

Electricity from peanut husks? If you aren't familiar with our develoPPP.de programme, you'll find some surprises waiting in our project visits. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has been promoting international development partnerships with the private sector since 1999. Whether in climate-friendly energy generation or sustainable waste management, European companies are getting successfully involved in various industries in developing and emerging countries.

Under the slogan 'Travelling together takes us further' over 1,500 develoPPP.de projects have been implemented in the past 15 years in over 70 countries. To do this, the BMZ brought together actors whose international involvement extensively complements each other. These include German and other European companies seeking to invest in the future markets of Africa, Asia and Latin America, together with three development policy institutions which have decades of technical and regional experience and are implementing the develoPPP.de programme. Our visits show what's behind some individual projects.

develoPPP.de 'It's best together'

Peanut husks, bamboo and Egyptian fashion design have little in common at first glance. What they do have in common is development partnerships under the develoPPP.de programme. The three terms each stand for one of the develoPPP.de projects which has already been successfully implemented in Africa. Our first project visit takes us to the village of Kalom in Senegal. Like many rural areas in this West African country, the village with its 1,200 inhabitants is not connected to the national grid. Electrical appliances such as refrigerators or an efficient husking machine for peanuts were not available. This changed in 2012. The 'Energie für Afrika' (Energy for Africa) foundation of the power utility Stadtwerke Mainz AG got together with the project developer for renewable energy Novis GmbH and DEG in a develoPPP.de development partnership to build a biomass power plant which supplies the village with electricity.

The plant is driven by biological fuels, primarily millet stalks and peanut husks. It offers not only jobs for its employees, but also a source of income for local farmers who sell the previously unused biomass to the plant. Village inhabitants can stock up their 'electricity account' individually through a prepaid  system, just like a cellphone. For Stadtwerke Mainz , the village plant is a possible point of entry to the Senegalese electricity market. Dr Joachim Schwerd, director of the 'Kalom' project at Stadtwerke Mainz, sees Africa as an attractive future market with great potential for renewable energy. He has been watching an interesting development since the village plant started work: 'Several families from other villages have moved there, because they have electricity.' The inhabitants have already bought electrical appliances. The peanut cooperative  has also purchased a husking machine, and plans to set up in the mini-industrial estate.'

Growing as fast as bamboo: Africa's future markets

Our second stop is in Ethiopia in east Africa. Although over 67% of Africa's total stock of bamboo grows here, this attractive and quickly growing alternative to tropical wood is virtually unused by industry. There are only a few small businesses making simple furniture or mats from bamboo. At the same time, there is great demand for industrially-made bamboo products in the international market. The Ethiopian furniture company African Bamboo is accordingly working with its three German partners Dynea AS, Dieffenbacher GmbH and Michael Weinig AG, and with GIZ in a develoPPP.de development partnership on plans for industrial processing of Ethiopian bamboo. The goal is to create a complete value chain for bamboo products, starting with cultivation and ranging through collection points to processing plants for decking boards. This will create new jobs and additional income for Ethiopian small farmers.

Cooperative, sustainable – creative

Sustainable and creative ideas are also needed for our third project example, in north Africa. This is about fresh fashion design from Egypt. The inspiration for the develoPPP.de development partnership came from Messe Berlin. It is always looking for new and original designs for its annual sales exhibition Bazaar Berlin  (formerly Import Shop), where new products from all over the world are presented. Together with Global Project Partners e.V. and sequa, Messe Berlin finally set up a development partnership for training in the Egyptian design industry. Designers from Europe and Egypt collaborate in workshops on joint development of commercially successful and contemporary creations through to model collections. Teachers at the Fashion School Burgo in Cairo and Helwan University are involved in the project. The results of the creative work are presented at Bazaar Berlin, reaching a broad public and opening up new markets.

develoPPP.de: Ideas competition for businesses

In 2014 the develoPPP.de programme celebrated its 15th anniversary. Companies interested in participating in the ideas competition should send their project suggestion to their partner of choice (DEG, GIZ or sequa). The application windows are:

  • 15 February - 31 March
  • 15 May - 30 June
  • 15 August - 30 September
  • 15 November - 31 December

Find full information on the application at develoPPP.de


What expectations do you have for cooperation between companies and international development initiatives? Do you know of similar sustainable examples in your region? Tell us in the comments below.

Author: Sabine Müller

August 2014

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