MEDWAYCAP Workshop & B2B Meeting: unlocking economic opportunities in Non-Conventional Water valorization


Tunis, 22 June 2023 - The highly anticipated MEDWAYCAP Workshop & B2B Meeting entitled "Opportunities for economic and professional growth in the context of the circular economy through the valorisation of unconventional waters (NCW)" lived up to expectations, bringing together renowned experts, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, funding agencies, interface actors and government officials in a joint effort to explore the potential of non-conventional water resources and their role in achieving a sustainable circular economy, and to join efforts to boost the market and create economic opportunities.

Organised by the Center of Water Research and Technologies (CERTE) and the Confederation of Tunisian Citizen Enterprises (CONECT), the workshop kicked off with an inspiring opening session held at the Arab Institute of Business Leaders in Tunis (22 June 2023). Distinguished speakers included Mr. Hakim Gabtni, the Director-General of CERTE, Mr. Chekib ben Mustapha CONECT board member, and Ms. Latifa Bousselmi, the national coordinator of the MEDWAYCAP Project for CERTE, emphasized the importance of water valorization in driving economic growth, water security, environmental sustainability, and social development in Tunisia and the urgency of research-business interaction to implement and up-scale best practices related to NCW valorisation, while creating a supporting business environment.

The workshop was organized on three panels discussion. The first panel of the day focused on market development opportunities in the domain of NCW valorization. Moderated by Mr. Chekib Ben Mustapha from CONECT, the panel featured representatives from CERTE, the National Sanitation Office (ONAS), and a startup that has been actively involved in innovative wastewater treatment solutions. Examples of developed innovative solutions by CERTE (Technology Readiness Level - TRL from 7 to 9) are presented as well as related pilot sites and the possibilities of wide-application. The representative of ONAS described the different implementation steps of the Public-Private Partnership - PPP for wastewater treatment plant management starting with their plants in the south of Tunisia then to the Grand Tunis. The founder of Wayout Ecological Solutions, showcased his revolutionary filter designed to capture waste from municipal rainwater network, thereby preventing at the end marine pollution, retaining over 10 tonnes of plastic waste. The difficulty to develop their market was discussed as the state is the main customer and municipalities have a limited resource. 

The second panel revolved around the promotion of solutions and best practices in NCW valorization and their implementation. Moderated by Mr. Ahmed Ghrabi, Expert on NCW from CERTE, Mr. Hatem Khalfallah, entrepreneur in the field, provided insights into the untapped potential of unconventional water resources, including treated wastewater, rainwater harvesting, and desalination of brackish and seawater. However, he also highlighted the need for adjustments to existing regulatory frameworks and administrative procedures to encourage wider adoption of these solutions. The representative of the order of architects of Tunisia (OAT) stressed the importance of specialized training and encouraged greater collaboration between the public and private sectors in implementing NCW projects.

The third panel was devoted to discussing the regulatory framework and access to financing for NCW valorization projects. Moderated by finance expert, Mr. Walid Barhoumi, the panel featured representatives from the Ministry of Environment, as well as witnesses from the National Agency for Scientific Research Promotion (ANPR) and CONECT INTECH.  

During the discussions, panelists emphasized the need for prudent water management, given the limited water resources in Tunisia. Various funding opportunities were presented to participants by AFD - Agence Française de Développement and Enda (micro-finance company in Tunisie), and the importance of seeking partnerships with technical and financial stakeholders was highlighted. The PPI4MED project, that aims to transfer research findings and technologies to the socio-economic sector, was showcased as an opportunity for young innovators. CONECT INTECH decrypted the Tunisian innovation ecosystem highlighting the remaining obstacles to its expansion. Green Climate Fund was presented by Mr. Chokri Mezghani (Ministry of Environment) including mechanisms and opportunities for the public and private sectors.

Following the panel discussions, the workshop provided a conducive environment for B2B networking sessions. Entrepreneurs, startups, and industry professionals were given the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations, explore potential partnerships, and exchange knowledge and expertise.

Several representatives of projects participated to the event for capitalization: WEF-CAP, NAWAMED, AQUACYCLE, TRESOR, InTheMed, AGREEMED, RESET, MEDISS, EVE, MENAWARA, further than MEDWAYCAP.