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MED TEST II and the difference it makes for Tunisia’s industries

Through the EU funded MED TEST II project, 26 industries in Tunisia have been able to demonstrate the opportunities of a resource efficient production, making a difference in their profitability. But resource efficiency can also become a much needed driver for the economy, while protecting the environment.
Published on Feb 01, 2018

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A struggling economic growth in combination with high unemployment figures and tight austerity measures, have the last couple of weeks filled the streets of Tunisia with echoes of the Arab spring. A reform of the economy, along with a more inclusive distribution of wealth, are only some of the many actions that could help to move the country towards better economy and higher employment figures. But the 2013 terrorist attacks on the vital tourist industry prolonged an already disrupted economic growth and have not only affected hotels and restaurant businesses, but also elementary suppliers such as the domestic food industry.

El Fellah, a company located 50 km outside Tunis, produces annually 6,500 t of canned fruits, tomatoes, and the local spice, Harissa. To keep up this production the company employs 50 full-time staff and at high seasons an additional workforce of about 90 employees. But since the decline of the tourism sector, the company, like many others, face tougher conditions for their products on the local market. To address this situation, companies must operate cost efficiently and make savings while still remaining competitive.

In 2015, El Fellah decided to join a UNIDO led project called MED TEST II, primarily to focus on how to reduce costs within their production. “Following the increase in utility costs, raw materials and auxiliaries, we wanted to enhance control over our production costs, mainly in energy. The approach of this project helped us a lot to become more competitive in the market.” Mr. Slah Charf, Manager, El Fellah

As part of the EU funded SwitchMed programme, the MED TEST II project seeks to build local capacities in providing services that can advance a Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) for industries in the Southern Mediterranean. To realize this, UNIDO, together with local partners, currently demonstrate in 130 industries throughout the Southern Mediterranean the business case of TEST, a concept from UNIDO that promotes the Transfer of Environmental Sound Technologies.

“By focusing on the various aspects of each company’s production processes, the UNIDO TEST methodology analyses how a business operates, what equipment is used, the number of resources that are consumed, and how waste is managed. This measures the economic and environmental impacts of each company’s production and helps determine losses as it sheds light on the saving potentials with a monetary value”. Roberta de Palma, Chief Technical Advisor MED TEST II   

In Tunisia, 26 industries from the food, leather, textile, chemical, and the mechanical sectors, took part in the MED TEST II project, demonstrating the many saving opportunities in their production, and within their specific sector.  For instance, El Fellah could through the project identify improvement measures that will annually save; 71,000 m3 of water (37% of the annual water consumption), 3,413 Mwh of energy savings (22% of the annual energy consumption), and 186 t of raw materials. All in all, the company can with an investment of 252,000 euros save 192,000 annually – an investment that certainly pays off. 

“Through the TEST methodology, the efficiency and the good allocation of resources have led to a significant increase of economic, financial and environmental profits. “ Mr. Slah Charf, Manager, El Fellah

On the 14th December 2017, the saving impacts achieved in all the 26 TunisianMED TEST II demonstration companies were presented on a national event in Tunis together with the Minister of Industry and SMEs, the delegation of the European Union to Tunisia, and the national partners of the project. Results from the project do not only present a new perspective for the businesses, but also opportunities on how to conserve and redistribute valuable natural resources to other parts of the society. For instance,  the project could identify 448,950 m3 of water savings in the 26 companies, which corresponds to the annual water consumption of 4,400 Tunisian households. 

Scaling the saving estimates to all industrial sectors is the long-term goal of the SwitchMed programme. Consequently, the demonstration of RECP in Tunisia through the MED TEST II project will also conclude in a national roadmap of how to Scale-Up RECP to other companies and sectors. This study can prove to become substantial for policy makers in designing the much needed economic reforms that could help the economy to generate more jobs and growth.