The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) on Wednesday, August 9, 2022, held a media briefing and exhibition themed “Accounting to our Customers” together with the launch of the Operational Guidance on Water Supply Plans for a roll-out in all its operational regions.
Speaking at the launch, the Managing Director of GWCL, Ing. Dr. Clifford Abdallah Braimah, indicated that as part of efforts to improve customer services, GWCL has started a technology drive with the introduction of the Customer App.
The Customer App is to enhance customer interactions.
He said the App offers customers the opportunity to report all complaints and to monitor its progress, allow customers to make payments at their convenience, and allows customers to generate their bills and statements in their comfort zones.
He noted that with the electronic payment transactions which the company started in 2017 raised an amount of GH₵1.7million, rose to GH₵13.2 million in 2018 and increased astronomically to GH₵64.3million (387.5%) in 2021.
Currently, he said monthly average revenues realised from electronic payment stands at GH₵9.3 million and is expected to rise to GH₵11.1 million by the end of 2022.
As at the 2nd quarter of 2022, he disclosed that revenues from electronic payment constituted 10.4% of GWCL’s total collections from water bill payments.
“It is pertinent to note that, payment of water bills using any of our electronic payment platforms does not attract the electronic levy (E-Levy). It is therefore expected that, in the long run, this payment option will become the most preferred by customers,” he added.
Below are details of his full address:
It is yet another year in the history of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) witnessing our noble company chalk successes in aspects of our operations in the water supply business in recent times. It is heartwarming and indeed a sign that our efforts over the past years have been recognized. This has been achievable with the support of our able staff and stakeholders.
Over the years, GWCL, has been a driving force in the water utility sector in Africa, and strives amidst a myriad of challenges through determination and a sense of purpose to fulfil its national mandate to the citizenry. I wish on this momentous occasion, interact with you to enable all our cherished customers and consumers appreciate the effort expended in bringing water to our homes.
With a staff strength of 5,280 nationwide, we have enjoyed a peaceful working environment, devoid of industrial unrest from 2017 to date. This can be attributed to prompt response to the needs of staff and proactive engagement with the Staff and the Union leadership. The peaceful work environment we are currently enjoying has sustained our operations and commercial drive.
Management has organized training courses for more than two thousand (2,000) staff across the country in different categories in various capacity development programs.
Management, with the support of the Staff Unions, conducted promotional interviews in 2018, 2019 and 2021. More than two thousand (2,000) staff were promoted during these periods. Such successive promotions were necessitated by the need to fill some critical vacancies and to resolve some petitions surrounding unfair treatment.
COMMERCIAL & MARKETING
Currently, GWCL has over 860,000 customers constituting Private and Government customers. This figure represents a 37.2% increase compared to the customer strength as at the end of 2017 (639,322). On the average, 5,320 customers are added to the customer base every month.
Currently, 90.3% of customers have been metered, representing a 12.6% increase over that of the 77.7% figure for 2017. There are 101 districts across the regions.
A total volume of 172.7 million m3 was sold in the year 2021. This is 22.8% above the volume of water sold during the year 2017 (140.6 million m3).
Total water revenue for the year 2017 was GH¢887.1 million and increased to GH¢1.2 billion in 2021 representing a 36.3% rise over the 2017 figure.
Total collection for 2017 and 2021 were GH¢669.5 million and GH¢902.2 million respectively. This represents a 34.8% increase above the collections realized in 2017.
GWCL set up the Call Centre in 2008 to promote a 2-way interaction between cherished customers and the company.
In 2020 we set out to upgrade the Call Centre to an ultra-modern one and commissioned it in 2021 which the media was invited to cover. Today, we can boast of a Call Centre with agents throughout the country, accept social media complaints including videos and live locations of issues and events in real time when sent to us.
All customer complaints are channeled to our call center via phone calls on our toll-free number 080040000 and landline numbers, our WhatsApp platforms, and other social media platforms. You can also walk in to any GWCL District or regional Offices
DIGITIZATION OF COMMERCIAL PROCESSES
As part of efforts to improve our customer services, GWCL started a technological drive which introduced the electronic billing and payment systems in 2015 to reduce armchair reading, reduce billing errors and make customer payments easier and accessible. Since then, our priority drive has been the digitization of all processes to serve our customers better. The electronic billing provides a smart way to manage customer information. Customers can pay their bills from the comfort of their homes as well as interact digitally with the company.
Plans are underway to digitize our new service connection processes to ensure that with the use of a mobile app. Customers can apply for new service connection at their convenience and monitor its progress.
GWCL has also introduced the Customer App to enhance customer interactions. Thus, the GWCL Customer App:
1. Offers customers the opportunity to report all complaints and to monitor its progress,
2. Allows customers to make payments at their convenience, and
3. Allows customers to generate their bills and statements in their comfort zones.
Electronic payment transactions which started in 2017 with an amount of GH₵1.7million rose to GH₵13.2 million in 2018 and increased astronomically to GH₵64.3million (387.5%) in 2021.
Currently, monthly average revenues realised from electronic payment stands at GH₵9.3 million and is expected to rise to GH₵11.1 million by the end of 2022.
As at the 2nd quarter of 2022, revenues from electronic payment constituted 10.4% of GWCL’s total collections from water bill payments. It is pertinent to note that, payment of water bills using any of our electronic payment platforms does not attract the electronic levy (E-Levy). It is therefore expected that, in the long run, this payment option will become the most preferred by customers.
Globally, most water utility companies face the challenge of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) that greatly affects their performance in terms of service delivery and revenue generation. Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) in its quest to achieve its core mandate, continues to work hard to reduce the high non-revenue water that causes the company to lose huge sums of money.
Some direct and indirect reduction measures have been put in place to tackle the high levels. These interventions among others include the installation of production meters to guide delivery of water into distribution networks, thereby improving water management schedules to the public. 203 out of 427 production meters, procured at a cost of (*****) have been installed so far. The GWCL is currently transitioning from mechanical meters to smart meters. This has been beneficial, and the company has installed 80,000 smart meters in the last eighteen (18) months. The smart metering comes with remote reading of meters, which reduces customers’ interactions with meter readers. Meters will be read more accurately. We have introduced drones in capturing meter readings, catchment monitoring, mapping, etc. The devices employed are a converter and a smart mobile phone and are connected via Bluetooth, to transmit data through a common medium known as the “READy” software which is compatible with a computer device and a smart phone. Drone deployment ensures the safety of Meter Readers, accessibility to gated houses and also, enhance speed in the overall meter reading exercise to aid in faster decision making. The drone reads 500 meters in 15 minutes of deployment.
GWCL in 2021 and 2022, upgraded its three (3) meter shops in the western, Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi. This should give confidence to the public that meters are well calibrated before installation at customer premises.
GWCL has also introduced Asset inventory and leakage mapping systems (digitization of leakage reporting and management system) which will improve pipe replacement programmes, thereby reducing observed leakages/bursts within the various communities. It is worthy to note that 10,000km of network has been mapped unto GIS.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Our company has become more customer focused and we are improving in our daily dealings with our customers. Currently our response time to reports of bursts and leakages have reduced drastically and now stands at 24 hours.
Apart from the above, some medium- and long-term strategies have been put in place to further reduce the high NRW levels. These are; introduction of prepaid meters for consumers to reduce arrears, network zoning and DMA design and implementation, aggressive public education and perception management of our operations, metering of transmission mains (terminal points), walk and cycle analysis, implementation of full SCADA for booster operations, linkage between asset management, Geographical Information Systems and Project Planning and Development, and metering of distribution zone (districts, DMAs, etc.).
GWCL recorded its highest NRW in 2017 which stood at 55%. It is important to note that, GWCL recorded 42.9% NRW for the first half of 2022, an improvement over the previous year of 46%. The company projects that NRW will further reduce to an estimate of 34% by the year 2025, based on all the interventions on going and other medium- and long-term strategies that have been put in place by management.
GWCL currently operates 90 number production systems with a total installed capacity of 45,955,290 m3 per month and a system input volume of total production of 151,789,332 m3 per year. As of June, 2022, the national total network length of pipes laid was 13,897 km with reported leaks of 5,941 km per month.
The total water loss for the first half of the year was 65,174,000 m3 (42.9%) comprising 43,387,793.7 m3 (67%) physical losses and commercial loss of 21,786,206.0 m3 (33%).
PIPELINE EXTENSION WORKS
662km of mains extensions have been laid throughout the country to augment water supply. In addition, 15km of distribution network improvement works were carried out at a cost of USD 6.5 million.
PRODUCTION IMPROVEMENT WORKS
GWCL undertook an assessment of Water Supply Systems that are affected by unstable power supply.
Following the assessment, 14 Automatic Voltage Regulators (AVRs) were installed at a cost of GHs12.3M at the worst affected systems to mitigate the impact of unstable power which currently accounts for 40% of total plant downtime nationwide.
AVRs have been installed at Barekese, Odaso, Konongo, Aframso, and Achiase Water Treatment Plants in the Ashanti Region. In the Central Region, AVRs were installed at Kwanyako, Bafikrom, Essakyir and Sekyere Hemang Water Treatment Plants and at Nsawam Treatment Plant and Kwahu -Tafo Booster Station in the Eastern Region.
In the last five years, GWCL has successfully implemented some key projects.
1. The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Sanitation and Water Project has been successfully implemented. With a World Bank support of $48 million, the project supported the Low-Income Customer Support Unit (LICSU; now a department), the telemetry and retooling of the meter shop and aided in achieving 40,000 customer meter installations in GAMA.
2. The Upper East Water Supply Project was built at a cost of €44.6M to produce 4.6 million gallons daily (mgd) and supply water to Bolga, Navrongo, Zuarungu, Paga and 30 other communities. Sod cutting was done in 2018 for works to commence. I am happy to say that on 5th August this year; just a few days ago, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo commissioned the new plant which is already serving the people of the Upper East Region. This plant has a horizon to serve the population up to 2040
3. The Akim Oda-Akwatia-Winneba Water Supply Project was constructed with a capacity to produce 8mgd. The $165M project supplies water to Akim Oda, Akwatia, Winneba and surrounding towns. It was commissioned by the President in November 2018.
In 2020, the President cut sod for the construction of various water supply projects which are at different stages of progress. These are the Keta, Yendi, Tamale, Damongo, Sekondi-Takoradi, Sunyani and Wenchi water supply projects. Contractors are on site and all projects are expected to be completed in the next 2 to 3 years.
LOW INCOME COMMUNITY SUPPORT (LICS) DEPARTMENT
Management has set up a Low-Income Community Support Department with a vision to create a utility in which all city residents, especially the poor, women and girls who live in low income, informal settlements and slums can enjoy affordable, safe water and hygiene services of high standard.
These LICS interventions are directed to assist communities to obtain adequate supply of safe water and sanitation facilities by extending the distribution network to communities, drilling new boreholes, providing water storage, and constructing school Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) systems.
These initiatives become sustainable as community members are mobilised to take part in these projects and serve on Water User Associations that oversee community improvements. The LICS also initiates hygiene education, including water demand management and customer education on bill payment to ensure that beneficiaries of our programs enjoy sustained service.
Since 2019 over 17,100 properties in Low Income Urban Communities (LIUCs) benefited from subsidized new service connections, benefitting over 200,000 people directly and over 500,000 indirectly. The LICS Department has already secured funding to provide an additional 12,400 connections.
Once implemented these interventions will benefit over 1.25 million people directly and indirectly with estimated consumption of about 3.7 million m³ per annum and will annually generate approximately GHS 22.6 million using the current tariff.
In collaboration with Partners like the World Bank and WaterWorX, numerous interventions have contributed positively to GWCL’s mission of meeting the increasing demand for better water services through efficient management.
In 2018, GWCL joined the biggest Water Operator Partnership program: WaterWorX with a network of 10 Dutch, 12 Asian and 28 African water service providers. The essence of the partnership was to support each other in realising access to reliable and affordable water services for all.
Through WaterWorX, GWCL has access to a pool of experts from the Dutch water sector to provide support to GWCL’s ongoing improvement initiatives to become a world class utility company.
WaterWorX is a strong champion of GWCL’s Low Income Customer Support Department (LICSD). Since 2019, WaterWorX has funded 3,600 connections in low-income communities alongside 34km network extensions. In the next 18 months 2,100 additional subsidised connection will be funded by WaterWorX. These interventions are expected to benefit over 75,000 people directly, and three times the same number indirectly.
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY UNIT (EHSU)
The unit was revamped by Management in 2020 with the mandate to promote the health and wellbeing of staff and prevent occupational injuries and diseases by providing a safe and healthy working environment for employees and other stakeholders.
The Unit is presently running a Pilot Environmental Health and Safety Management Program in seven (7) selected GWCL Operational units i.e. Central Workshop, Central Stores, Weija Headworks, Accra Booster Station, Pipeline Maintenance, Accra Central District & Accra North District.
Currently, a draft Occupational Health and Safety Policy is ready for adoption and implementation. A comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety Management System is ready for implementation using the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle model. 146 Staff members have been trained in Occupational Health and Safety within the piloted areas.
KPONG BOTTLING PLANT (G-WATER)
The Kpong Bottling Plant, which produces G-Water, is the brainchild of Ghana Water Company Limited. It is located next to the Kpong Treatment Plant.
As the sole urban water provider, it envisioned this bottling project as a response to the ever-changing needs of customers and to innovatively provide potable, quality, and safe drinking water at extra convenience to customers nationwide. By producing G-Water, GWCL provides excellent ways to meet shortfalls in access to safe, quality, potable water within the major cities in Ghana.
Commercial production started in December 2018 and so far, the Plant has successfully upgraded its operations from a small-scale production of 3,000 bottles per hour to a medium-scale production of 15,000 bottles per hour.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
One of the best ways of monitoring and keeping track of progress in any institution is by having in place effective and robust methods to supervise and evaluate the performance of its units. Thus, GWCL ensures that all the operational regions, departments and units are duly examined to guide them towards the vision of becoming a world class water utility company.
In this vein, we have employed the use of ‘Utilities of the Future’ (UoF) and Effective Utility Management (EUM) tools in our performance standards and target setting responsibilities such that peer reviews, benchmarking and other performance improvement tools are adopted to bring the regional offices and customer-oriented departments to a common ground.
These tools will help these regions and departments to identify gaps and areas to improve and also emulate other good performing peers, all in a bid to ensuring that we bring value and satisfaction to our valued customers and relevant stakeholders.
GWCL has encountered numerous daily challenges that affect its operations in its quest to deliver quality services to customers. Salient among these challenges witnessed over the years are:
1. Illegal mining activities, sand winning and pollution of river bodies causing high turbidity and increasing treatment and production costs,
2. Frequent power outages leading to disruption in water supply and damages to equipment and machinery at some water production centres,
3. Vandalization of transmission pipelines and distribution mains by road contractors and road users resulting in pipe bursts and leakages,
4. Water thefts of all forms e.g. illegal connections & meter by-passes that contribute to unaccounted for water hence reducing sales and revenues, and
5. Building on pipelines and encroachment on utility reservations by some communities. An example is the Weija Treatment Plant catchment area.
In the face of these challenges, there are some accomplishments that need to be acknowledged.
1. We have replaced and installed pumps of various types in most of our headworks to increase production to meet the demands of our customers.
2. Bulk and commercial meters are being replaced to enhance accurate reading and billing.
3. We have achieved 99% compliance to the 6 key operational water quality parameters namely: pH, colour, alkalinity, turbidity, residual chlorine and bacteriological analysis.
4. To meet the continuous demand for water and resonate with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)6 of ensuring water access for all by 2030, GWCL is expanding several water treatment plants and constructing new ones.
5. GWCL is extending distribution mains in all the regions to increase water supply.
These encouraging results amidst all the challenges is an indication that the company is on track.
The company has bagged Nine (9) awards in the last 5 years. In 2017, the Global Water Intelligence awarded GWCL “Water Leaders Award 2017” and “Best CEO in the Utility Sector for the year 2018”.
GWCL also received an award at the 2019 WEX GLOBAL Awards for “Innovation in Finance & Partnerships” .
The Managing Director of GWCL has been adjudged “Ghana’s Most Respected CEO in the Utility Sector” for three consecutive times during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Editions of the CEO Summit at the Ghana Industry CEO Awards in 2018, 2019 and 2020 .
Other awards include the “Outstanding Utility CEO of The Year 2018” at the 9th Edition of the Ghana Entrepreneur & Corporate Executive Awards in 2019, based on his innovative approach to work, excellent teamwork, and his in-depth knowledge in the water sector.
The “2020 Ghana Development Awards” organized by The Business Executive was conferred on GWCL in recognition of our contribution to the growth and development of nationwide water supply.
In 2021, GWCL emerged as one of the best enterprises in the field of production and treatment of water nationally. The Managing Director was adjudged “Manager of the Year 2021” by the Socrates Committee, Oxford, UK.
2ML Consulting Ltd awarded GWCL in 2021 for its innovative measures in leveraging technology as a tool to empower and increase productivity.
The Managing Director was also adjudged the “2021 Africa’s Most Respected CEO in Water Supply” at The Business Executive Excellence Awards in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai.
The recently held Africa Public Sector Conference & Awards 2022, awarded GWCL, “Excellence in Urban Water Supply in Africa”, and the Managing Director as part of “Africa’s Top 50 public sector leaders”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Moving forward, GWCL will embark on continuous community engagements to sensitize its cherished customers on all issues that pertain to them.
There will be constant collaboration between the GWCL and other institutions and organizations such as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to provide timely information to customers in the event of power cuts leading to interruptions in water supply, the Water Resources Commission (WRC) to discuss issues with water resources and all external stakeholders to enhance the existing rapport we have.
I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all staff for availing themselves on this memorable day. Your expertise and contribution to the overall growth of GWCL is commendable. You have been phenomenal, and I say Ayekoo!
To our august guest, I entreat you to visit the regional exhibition booths for detailed regional and departmental success stories. Our abled staff are here to enlighten you. Indeed, we have delivered quality services to our customers, and we firmly believe in our capabilities to become a world class utility company.