Ghana Water Company limited battles with the problem of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) which accounts for about 51.8% of their losses, mostly arising from theft, illegal connections, pipe burst, meter by pass etc. This impacts negatively on the service delivery, operational and financial performance of the company. SkyFox limited in partnership with Ghana Water Company (GWCL) and Community Partnership for Health and Development (CPHD) are on the path to reducing this problem by piloting an sms self-billing system that will allow customers to self-bill and pay their water tariffs. This system will also allow citizens to report illegal connections, theft and leakages to the Ghana Water Company Limited.
In the process of proposing our innovative solution to the GWCL, we have learnt two (2) lessons we think are worth sharing.
Lesson 1: Use Bottom-up approaches in partnerships as startups: Most often startups enterprises invest a lot of their time and efforts to connect and meet with senior officials of their prospective partners or clients. In our case, we also tried to connect with top management of our prospective public partner to get them on board for our innovative idea.
After trying for months to reach these officials, we decided to engage with a junior staff instead. To our surprise things started to fall into place. We were able to get the senior officials on-board and our partnership kicked off on a high note. This junior staff that we engaged earlier is now coordinating the project from the public partner’s end. Lesson: go bottom-up!
Lesson 2: Be creative in getting access to data: The normal channel of getting critical data is often too cumbersome and sometimes very in effective. So you need first of all to have access to different networks and in-depth of the sector to easily get access to the data you need. We encountered this challenge in the course of our baseline survey when we wanted to review the annual financial reports of our partner to strengthen our baseline report. The company was very reluctant in releasing information until we identified a creative way by engaging the services of an independent consultant without further asking for the data from our partner directly. This got us all the needed data from the company for our baseline survey.

Dick Bouman's picture

Dear Samyuri,

Great sharing of these insights. Always good to try different paths. Nice that it was succesful. With regard to Lesson 2 I want something to add. Last month  I was in the position of the Consultant, where MWM (VIA Water partner in Mozambique) was seeking for water supply data of one of the big cities in Mozambique. As a consultant, I had to follow an ethical code, as such data were provided to me under confidentiality. Hence, I had to ask the Utility for permission on using these data. I got a 'yes' on the data from my own analysis, but a 'no' for the data base, as the latter had company sensitive information. In these modern times, Utilities can experience the threat of privatisation and try to protect their business information. So my addition: if collecting such data: make sure you do not disturb the relationship of trust.