From the invention of a water pump to the supply of a range of “essential services” for semi-urban and rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa
From pedals and levers to taps
Our history began in 1974 when Marc VERGNET invented the hydropump, a water pump that was either hand- or foot-operated and specially adapted to the various rural contexts in sub-Saharan Africa. These hydraulic installations meet all the requirements of isolated parts of Africa because they are (1) compatible with sub-Saharan hydro-geological environments, (2) easy and inexpensive to maintain, and (3) meet community consumption needs – which are intensive.
Since the turn of the millennium, VERGNET HYDRO, based in the French city of Orléans, has been adapting to changes in the sub-Saharan semi-urban and rural water sector and has expanded its range of drinking water supply solutions to offer electric pumps connected to the local grid, powered by photovoltaic solar panels, generators or combined energy generation solutions, and water towers that supply water to community standpipes and private connections. This means that users can now simply turn on a tap to get their drinking water!
From B2B products to B2C services
From the outset, VERGNET HYDRO has designed, produced and installed facilities for African ministries, international donors and NGOs (B2B products). However, in 2009, the company transformed its core business and signed its first delegated public service contract to supply drinking water in Burkina Faso. In a nutshell, the private operator signs a contract with a semi-urban or rural African community, undertaking to provide a continuous drinking water service for 10 or 15 years to that community’s residents, in return for which it is authorised to invoice residents directly for the service, at a rate previously agreed on with all parties involved.
The company thus now provides a B2C service, alongside its long-standing B2B product range. In 2015, ODIAL SOLUTIONS (VERGNET HYDRO’s holding company) set up a subsidiary for this activity, named UDUMA. It was a pioneer in large-scale drinking water services for sub-Saharan rural areas and soon recognised for the groundbreaking, innovative and sustainable nature of its model. Awards to date include the SOLAR IMPULSE label in 2021, the P4G State of the Art award in 2020, a trophy from the International Development Observatory in 2019 and an Orange Social Entrepreneur award in 2018. By 2025, UDUMA is expected to serve 3.5 million users, employ 200 people and work with 15,000 partners (pump operators, water distribution point attendants, mechanics and sales agents) in Africa.
From purely “drinking water” solutions to a range of “essential services”
Today, ODIAL SOLUTIONS products ensure access to drinking water for more than 60 million people in 35 African countries. On the ground, the group can count on the expertise of its (1) three subsidiaries in Burkina Faso (VERGNET BURKINA), Côte d’Ivoire (SAHER) and Mali (UDUMA MALI), (2) 35 local distributors, and (3) 3,500 repair technicians specially trained to install and maintain the group’s solutions. Alongside the company’s day-to-day activities (production, logistics and administration, etc.), its employees include (1) engineers and technicians specialising in African village water supply, (2) sales technicians specialising in this area of business, (3) construction project managers, and (4) drinking water service administrators.
The company has made numerous positive social and environmental impacts. In 2010, the group signed up to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) principles of the United Nations’ GLOBAL COMPACT and adopted a mission statement in 2020. Its 2020-2035 strategy is built around its CSR priorities. It has also embarked on a number of energy generation projects, again serving people in semi-urban and rural Africa. First water, now energy – by 2035, ODIAL SOLUTIONS could well become a pivotal, all-round operator supplying essential services to people in semi-urban and rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
- 1974: Invention of the HPV pump by Marc VERGNET in Burkina Faso
- 1976-1988: Distribution of 30,000 pumps in Ivory Coast, Mali and Burkina Faso in particular
- 1988: Creation of VERGNET SA by Marc VERGNET for all pump activities (40,000 pumps sold between 1989 and 2006)
- 2000: Creation of a range of tanks to meet the growing needs of construction of drinking water supply networks
- 2004: Creation of VERGNET HYDRO, to separate within the VERGNET Group, the water activities of the energy activities
- 2006: Expansion of the range of modular tanks made of metal and mounted on backfill
- 2009: VERGNET HYDRO supports its partners to become operators of water supply networks and pump parks under public service delegation contracts
- 2010: The company continues its growth and settles in new buildings in Ingré (France – Loiret)
- 2013: Creation of an “emergency” model in the range of metal tanks
- 2014: Exit of VERGNET Group and creation of ODIAL SOLUTIONS Group to which VERGNET HYDRO is now attached
- 2015: Creation of the innovative UDUMA subsidiary offering a drinking water supply service to rural populations in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 2016: Implementation of a demonstrator of the UDUMA concept in Burkina Faso (UNICEF funding)
- 2017: VERGNET HYDRO launches the MPV60 “great depth” ergonomic manual pump
- 2018: UDUMA wins its first market in Mali
- Present in 35 countries in Africa
- More than 50 million people have access to water thanks to the activities of the ODIAL Solutions group.
- 3500 repair artisans in Africa
- 40 years of experience
- 14 million euros in turnover
- 48 employees