Irregular supply of water takes a toll on breweries

The water shortage in the capital has had a telling effect on the operational cost of Guiness Ghana Breweries, the leading brewery in the country.

According to the company, the cost of water supplied from water tankers in the capital cost approximately half a million cedis from about 100 deliveries daily.

The Managing Director (MD) of Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited (GGBL), Mr Peter Ndegwa, said this in a presentation in Accra, titled‘Corporate and Marketing Challenges: The Mind-set of a Strategist’.

This was at the second Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG’s) programme christined ‘The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme which was partly sponsored by the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, and aimed at updating the professional knowledge of members of the institute.

“Can you imagine brewing beer from tanker water” he asked participants at the programme which also included marketing executives from various companies.

According to him, in the earlier part of the year, the company stayed months without adequate supply of water from the Ghana water Company Limited (GWCL).

The challenge    

Water supply in Accra became irregular following the destruction of some water filters at the Ghana Water Comapny Treatment Plant on the Weija Dam, which supplies water to the whole of western Accra and a few areas in the eastern parts of the capital including Achimota, where Guinness Ghana is headquartered.

Due to the challenge, the GWCL has to reduce supplies by almost 40 per cent which means that the eastern parts of the capital which supplies water have become secondary because of the distance from the Weija plant had to suffer.

The situation, Mr Nwenga said compelled the company to rely heavily on the services of water tanker operators in the region to be able to produce.

Under the streneous circumstances, the Guinness MD said the company had to import some of its products from neighbouring countries, including Nigeria, to be able to meet demand.

“It was not easy but we had to strategise,” Mr Ndegwa said

The strategy

Mr Ndegwa told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS after the programme that his company, which thrives largely on water, had to endure the irregular water supply that hit parts of the national capital earlier this year by either importing or buying water from the tankers to brew locally.

“From January to May this year, we could not get water. It was difficult for us to operate and produce the beer because the water we were getting from Weija wasn’t coming again,” Mr Ndegwa said, adding that the situation forced the company to either buy water in bits from the tanker operators to be able to brew the beer locally or import from Ghana’s neighbours.

The situation made things difficult for Guinness to operate, the MD admitted in the interview, but added that the company was able to strategise to survive and would continue to feed the market with its products.

Although Mr Ndegwa could not immediately quantify the loss incurred as a result of the situation, he said it could amount to as much as 20 to 40 per cent loss of capacity within the five month-period that the problem existed.

“It was costing us approximately half a million cedis daily,” the company’s MD.

Although the problem has normalised, Mr Ndegwa said it had not been solved completely and, thus, called for necessary measures to be put in place to check it.

“We not get the water but the problem is not 100 per cent solved,” he said, noting that the irregular water supply in the capital needed a holistic approach towards solving it once and foreall.

Guinness Ghana’s Corporate Relations Director, Ms Preeba Greenstreet, admitted that the company imported some of its products in order to meet the demand at the time, Ms Greenstreet said those imported were manufactured to meet the standards required of them in the country.

“It’s now better but we still have some problems. We have spoken to Ghana Water Company Limited and the Ministry of Water and Resources and they have satisfied with the responses from them,” she said.

She also added that although the company had explored the possibilities of using borehole water to brew, partly to escape the habitual water problem facing Achimota, where Guinness Ghana’s Accra plant is headquartered.

She said feasibilities studies to that effect had showed positive signs.

“We have done several studies into it but the water table there does not meet what we need,” she added.

By Maxwell Adombila Akalaare/Graphic Business/Ghana

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