AFRICA: employers’ organizations committed to CSR

One of the employers’ organizations that plays a crucial role in taking CSR (corporate social responsibility) into account in Africa is the Confédération des Entreprises Citoyennes de Tunisie (Conect). The Tunisian employers’ association, created in 2011, currently has around twenty representatives spread across the 24 governorates of Tunisia, in particular through regional offices. Conect also brings together some twenty sectoral professional groups and more than 2,000 member companies, operating in the various structured and organized sectors of industry, commerce, services, crafts and agriculture.

The association, founded and directed by businessman Tarak Cherif, is aware of the importance of developing CSR projects oriented towards sustainable development. Conect has initiated several green projects. The most recent concerns the capacity building of 80 Tunisian eco-entrepreneurs, particularly in the sectors of the circular economy, organic farming, sustainable waste management, renewable energies and sustainable tourism. Through this project, Conect aims at a double objective, namely the encouragement of innovation and the preservation of the environment. In addition to training projects, Conect raises awareness among companies through its CSR label.

Conect’s “Tunisie RSE” label

To deepen its CSR approach, Conect launched the “Tunisie RSE” label, inspired by the ISO 26000 standard. The latter is structured around four components: economic, environmental, social and governance. How do I get it? It all starts with a diagnosis of the state of CSR within the company wishing to obtain the label. An action plan is then drawn up by Conect in order to choose the corresponding label: Bronze, Silver or Gold. “However, the minimum threshold below which no label can be awarded is compliance with the legislation in force and the rights of the main partners: suppliers, employees and customers. explains Conect. Tunisia’s Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) is the first institution to join this initiative in 2018. “A coherent CSR approach will make it easier to respond to new market demands and mobilize resources through a leverage effect, and to set up new partnerships, both national and international, public and private. said Nejia Gharbi, Deputy CEO of CDC in 2018, on the sidelines of Conect’s 6th CSR Conference.

Automotive waste © Huguette Roe / Shutterstock

Located in the same sub-region as Tunisia, Morocco is also quite advanced in terms of CSR, in particular thanks to its employers’ organizations such as the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) of Tanger-Tétouan-Al Hoceïma (TTA), which has 90,000 direct and affiliated members. Like the Conect, the CGEM has adopted a charter in accordance with the guidelines and directives of ISO 26000. Adopted on December 14e, 2006 by the National Business Council, the confederation’s statutory and decision-making body, the charter is structured around nine areas of commitment. The third axis concerns the preservation of the environment.

Created in 1947, the CGEM contributes, among other things, to the improvement of waste management in Morocco. The association is working with five associations representing the industrial zones of Tangier on a project for the recovery of industrial waste in the Kingdom. The management of this type of waste remains very sensitive in Morocco. The North African country produces 1.5 million tonnes of industrial waste every year, of which around 350,000 tonnes are identified as hazardous. According to the Moroccan authorities, only 23% of this waste is recycled in the kingdom, yet it is very harmful to humans and the environment.

The development of a practical guide to support SMEs / SMIs

In addition to its CSR charter, CGEM has a tool to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industries (SMIs) improve their productivity and reduce their environmental impact. Entitled First steps towards environmental management, the book was published in June 2019 in the “Guides PME” collection.

In the guide, CGEM offers companies a practical methodology that can be broken down into six points: presentation of the studied / diagnosed entity, identification of material flows and environmental impacts using a visual tool preceded, if necessary, by a summary questionnaire, impact assessment and development of a priority scale, identification of possible improvement actions “For each negative impact, identify two or three actions and calculate the economic profitability of each”, the implementation of action plans and finally the monitoring of the actions implemented. CGEM’s strategy takes into account the specificities of each company in different areas, including water, sanitation, energy, mobility, sustainable cities, etc.

To strengthen its efficiency in Morocco, CGEM collaborates with several organizations, including the French Business Movement (Medef), in particular for projects related to sustainable mobility, smart cities and renewable energies. Morocco plays a strategic role in the energy sector and contributes to the development of renewable energies on the African continent. To develop this vision, the Kingdom of Morocco aims to increase the share of renewable energies in the energy mix to 52%.

Likewise, the Inter-employer Group of Cameroon (Gicam) is undoubtedly one of the employers’ organizations working for the development of CSR in Africa. Created in 1957, precisely in Cameroon, under the name of Interprofessional Group for the Study and Coordination of Economic Interests, it became Gicam in 1992. For the employers’ organization, the question of waste is the first real challenge to be taken up. in order to preserve the environment.

Management of used plastic packaging compulsory for its members

Collective waste management is an initiative shared by Gicam and one of its members, AC2P (Cameroonian Association of Plastic Professionals). The project aims to support companies subject to the obligation to manage non-biodegradable plastic packaging generated by their activity, even if they are not directly involved in waste management. In a document published in 2017, Gicam already announced the creation of a plastic management fund commonly used to mobilize the necessary financial resources. Each company was invited to contribute in proportion to the quantity of plastic waste emitted. The collected waste will be treated in structures approved by the Cameroonian Ministry of the Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development.

Read also – AFRICA: the continent is tackling the tide of waste that pollutes the environment

Gicam’s commitment to waste management is all the more visible since the group has the Hysacam company among its ranks. The concessionaire, in charge of the collection and treatment of household waste in 17 Cameroonian towns, intends to develop three power plants at the Nkolfoulou landfill in the west of Yaoundé, the PK 10 landfill in Douala and the Bafoussam landfill in the West Cameroon region. The areas in which social and economic activities and investments are still envisaged by Gicam are “The construction of boreholes, reforestation, construction of channels for irrigation, distribution of agricultural inputs and biogas”, said the presidents of the association’s North-West and South-West regional councils, as part of an exchange meeting held in May 2021.

Successful energy transition

The General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d’Ivoire (CGECI) also encourages companies to adopt a CSR approach based on essence and not on good conscience, particularly in the energy sector. The employers’ organization, founded in 2005, brings together 1,500 companies through 19 groups and professional associations. Its approach mainly consists of launching awareness-raising and training campaigns. Like Conect, CGEM and Gicam, CGECI has a CSR charter.

AFRICA: employers' organizations committed to CSR © anatoliy_gleb / Shutterstock

Two technicians installing the solar panels © anatoliy_gleb / Shutterstock

Among others, the CGECI is responsible for the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the PROFERE project (vocational training project in the fields of renewable energies and energy efficiency in Côte d’Ivoire). Experts trained under this project should be able to perform energy audits and maintenance of photovoltaic equipment in companies. The training is carried out in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). CGECI also collaborated with the German Agency for International Development Cooperation as part of the awareness and information campaign for companies and industries in Bouaké on energy efficiency and renewable energies. This initiative aims to strengthen the competitiveness of companies and reduce their carbon footprint. The chemical element remains the main cause of global warming.

“CGECI member companies and Ivorian companies in general have a real need for support to succeed in their energy transition. This is why the Ivorian employers have chosen to engage in the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for the benefit of the private sector. Jean-Marie Ackah, president of CGECI, explained during the signing in February 2021 of another financing agreement with the French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Union (EU). The envelope of 1.64 million euros was released to Ivorian companies for projects to acquire renewable energy systems and energy efficiency.

Like most African countries, Madagascar pursues its goal of preserving its unique biodiversity. For several years, the promotion of CSR has been a priority for the Malagasy government and the Groupement des Entreprises de Madagascar (GEM), a Malagasy employers’ organization which brings together nearly 1,500 companies. At least 22 companies have already adopted a CSR approach in Madagascar. However, no law dedicated to CSR exists to date.

Towards the establishment of a CSR label

The GEM is working in collaboration with the Malagasy Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development (MEDD) to set up a CSR label. Like the four employers’ organizations mentioned above, it will be based on the ISO 26000 standard. The company wishing to obtain this label must have good economic, social and environmental performance as well as proof of its tax contribution.

In Africa, many companies are naturally involved in CSR, which is essentially called CSR, but unfortunately, they do not codify the process. The role of employers’ organizations, as we have seen, is precisely to perpetuate these actions through support.

Ines Magoum

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