CDS provides access to water and electricity to rural communities in Mauritania. The company is consolidating its leading position in the field of renewable energy.

the Company
Created 35 years ago, CDS is a company committed to providing access to water and electricity services for all, and especially in the rural and isolated zones of Northern Mauritania. In 2014, 20,000 people were given access to drinking water. The company has created 25 permanent jobs. CDS’s activity is threefold : public service delegation of water and electricity in partnership with the State and local authorities, installment and maintenance for electro-mechanic works and distribution of water and electricity equipment, based on renewable energies.

Managing and creating an SME in Mauritania is interesting but difficult, it requires a lot of energy, funding, a vision and continuity.(…)But when I see the impact in terms of jobs, it’s truly a source of pride.
— Sidi Khalifou / Founder

the Founder
Sidi Khalifou is a Mauritanian engineer and entrepreneur, graduated from Sup’Meca. Keenly sensitive to energy access related issues, he co-founded ECODEV, an NGO committed to local development and environmental issues in West Africa. He joined CDS in 2010 (then run by his father) and has since then largely developed the activities of the company in the field of renewable energies.

Why is it important ?
Access to water is a major stake for this country that is 80% desert and where half of the population does not have access to drinking water. Access to electricity is even more limited: the electrification rate is estimated at only 23,8% nationally, and is as low as 3% in rural areas. Several hundreds of small, urban centers are yet to be equipped and supplied. The great potential of the country regarding renewable energy sources only begins to be identified and exploited.
The Mauritanian government has embarked on an ambitious growth and reform policy in the water and electricity sectors over the past decade, particularly in rural areas, with a more global goal of fighting poverty. 

Impact matrix and analyzes
Before each reportage, we perform an impact analysis of the activity of each small company using an impact identification matrix designed by the project experts. This is done in close collaboration with the company CEO. The nature of the impacts identified (economical, social, quality of life etc) as well as the stakeholders involved (clients, employees, competitors etc) in the company ecosystem are scanned. The content of the completed matrix is then used as underlying themes for the photo/video shooting and interviews once in Africa.


IMPACT #1 / Energy access
CDS established a network of 22 energy shops, that provide electricity in rural areas. Powered by solar panels, these shops are used to charge personal cellphones, power a refrigerator and a light bulb. Over a year, more than 230,00 mobile phones have been charged in these shops (which represents 1,300 hours of conversation), a significant improvement considering how important mobile phones are to maintain social connections and find job opportunities.


IMPACT #2 / Water access
1,000 families benefit from access to drinking water thanks to the water pumps installed and powered by CDS. At the national scale, only 50% of Mauritanian households have this privilege. This represents a great change for these households : women used to spend
2 hours a day fetching water, carrying the equivalent of the weight of 28 elephants in buckets of water.


IMPACT #3 / Encourage new initiatives
Water access enables new activities to develop. As an example, a women’s organization is now operating four vegetable gardens. They generate almost 6,000 euros of income per year through this activity (the average income in Mauritania is 2 euros per day). Local brickyards informal factory have also emerged, creating about 10 jobs in the villages having access to new water sources.


IMPACT #4 / ease administration work
10 remote border posts are electrically supplied thanks to CDS’ solar panels. It significantly improved the daily life of customs officials, but also enabled them to computerize and improve the control of border crossings, a critical element in a zone considered as vital in the fight against terrorism.


IMPACT #5 / Promote social cohesion
CDS’ staff gathers people from various Mauritanian ethnic groups, while most of the population is Arab-Berber. The company employs 2 women. Access to education and professional training is a major issue for women in Mauritania, and only 30% of them have a formal job.


IMPACT #6 / collaboration with providers & competitors
CDS works with 16 local suppliers. As it offers high-quality services, the company does not compete with hardware retailers, traditional suppliers of solar panels. CDS promotes renewable energies while ensuring the quality of its facilities, which is not always the case in the sector : a village had for example invested 20,000 euros in a solar system that revealed itself to be unusable.