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Time to make the GWCL a more efficient entity

Thu, 6 Feb 2014 Source: Kofi Thompson

By Kofi Thompson

Perhaps the time has now come for the government of Ghana, to consider selling some of its shares in the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), to the general public, in an IPO, to enable the company raise interest-free funds for its operations and expansion projects, across the country.

The shining example of the hugely successful partial privatisation of GOIL, the state-owned oil marketing firm, shows how allowing ordinary people and private-sector institutional investors to buy shares in state-owned entities on the GSE, can transform the fortunes of such companies, in dramatic fashion.

The discipline of listing on the GSE will force the management of the GWCL to become more focused on making the company a going concern that responds to the needs of its customers - instead of continuing to remain a financial basket-case providing cushy sinecures for a mostly-unproductive workforce with archaic work practices.

It is totally unacceptable that it takes so long for the company to attend to and repair burst pipes along its distribution-pipeline network. Surely, there ought to be timelines within which such repairs should be carried out?

The GWCL must make the improvement of its supply of treated water to customers across the country a priority. It is only when that happens and water is supplied on a reliable and sustainable basis nationwide that it can justify asking its biggest corporate customers such as Coca-Cola, the breweries and other manufacturing companies to switch to using prepaid meters.

And what is the point of asking customers to pay their water bills at various banks, if those payments are sometimes not immediately transferred to the GWCL's accounts, and consequently not reflected in the bills sent out to its customers, even months afterwards, one wonders? That is simply unacceptable in today's Ghana - in which banks are networked and cash transfers between accounts virtually instantaneous.

Water is life. To ensure public health in Ghana, the entity responsible for the nation's drinking water supply, ought to be a more efficiently run company, providing a reliable service nationwide. Let the powers that be take steps in that direction swiftly. Nothing else will do in a nation that aspires to be the gateway to Africa. A word to the wise...

Columnist: Kofi Thompson