Canada offers solutions for sanitation

Virtual business round brings group of 22 companies to share cutting-edge technologies and solutions with Brazilian companies

By Sérgio Siscaro

One of Brazil’s main challenges is basic sanitation. Based on data from the year 2018, collected by the federal government in the Sistema Nacional de Informações sobre Saneamento (SNIS) (National Sanitation Information System), 16.4% of the population had no access to treated water, and 46.8% had no sewage system coverage. For changing this scenario, companies in the sector, controlled by municipal or state governments, need to develop solutions that increase the efficiency of their operations, improving the level of access of society to these services.

This is also an excellent business opportunity for companies from abroad, which are interested in investing in projects in this area in Brazil, and for Brazilian companies seeking access to cutting-edge technologies. In an effort to leverage these opportunities, an event promoted by Consulado Geral do Canadá (Consulate General of Canada) in São Paulo, in November, named Virtual Water / Wastewater Trade Mission to Brazil, brought Canadian companies closer to the Brazilian market.

With the involvement of 22 companies that operate in the segment, the event was developed by the Trade Commissioner Service in Brazil, in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade of the province of Ontario; with the office of the province of Québec in São Paulo; and with Investissement Québec International.

Access to cutting-edge technologies

According to Monica McDonough, Commercial Manager of Clean Technologies at the Consulate General of Canada in São Paulo, the event – carried out in a virtual way – enabled the connection between Canadian and Brazilian companies. “This area offers strong synergies between the two countries. Canada is a world leader in the development of advanced technologies in the segment of water and sewage.  The country has more than 900 companies in this branch, in addition to research centers, incubators, and specific programs concentrated in Ontario and Quebec,” she says.

She points out that, with the entry into force of Marco Legal do Saneamento Básico (Basic Sanitation Legal Framework) (law 14.026/2020), the interest in bringing cutting-edge technologies to the country is increasing, with a view to the universalization of sanitation services in Brazil by 2033. “The impact of Covid-19 has also increased the demand for automated solutions that do not require face-to-face interaction and has accelerated the need to implement artificial intelligence technologies and the internet of things – areas in which Canada stands out”.

While supported by agencies in Ontario and Quebec, the mission also includes companies from the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. “CCBC played a very significant role, selecting more than 40 companies and government agencies in Brazil that presented converging points with the mission participants,” completes McDonough.

Diversified solutions

All 22 Canadian companies that make up the virtual mission operate primarily in six areas: water and sewage treatment facilities, technologies that are used in this process, robotic solutions for safety inspections, specialized services in water management, power generation, and equipment for the infrastructure of dams and gates. “Many of these solutions also have applications in other areas, such as mining, oil and gas, pulp and paper, and food and beverages”, McDonough explains.

She highlights the similarity of problems faced by the two countries as an additional argument for the complementarity of the performance of their companies. “Canada has the same challenges as Brazil in providing access to water and sewage to remote communities, and also experiences the growing demand for reuse water. The mission allows us to share with Brazil some of these cutting-edge solutions for the segment, through partnerships with local companies”.

Positive examples

One of the Canadian companies already operating in Brazil is BRK Ambiental, of the Brookfield group – today the largest private company in the basic sanitation segment in Brazil. By means of a public-private partnership with Companhia Pernambucana de Saneamento (Compesa) (Pernambuco Sanitation Company), it has been responsible for improving the Recife population’s access levels to treated water and sewage services. Recently, BRK Ambiental was selected by the government of Alagoas to operate in that Brazilian state.

Another Canadian company that is present in Brazil, is Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), which has become a minority shareholder of Iguá Saneamento, in 2018. This Brazilian company, which operates in the states of Alagoas, Mato Grosso, Paraná, Santa Catarina and São Paulo, was the first in the segment to offer sustainable debentures (with green and social benefits), ensuring the investments to expand its water and sewage infrastructure services.