Guma Valley Water Company Limited (GVWC) was established by an Ordinance in 1961 as an autonomous public utility to supply water in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It is 99% owned by the Government of Sierra Leone and 1% owned by Freetown City Council. Institutional challenges within the sector, coupled with past political upheavals had made it very difficult for the company to deliver on its mandate. Despite efforts by the Government and the International Community, water service delivery did not significantly improve from the 2002 Sierra Leone Civil War situation.
Prior to intervention, service delivery was characterized by poor service coverage, insufficient water supply, and innumerable visible leaks on unburied spaghetti networks, inadequate billing systems, poor customer care, and poor organizational culture. Non-Revenue Water was 61%, Collection Efficiency was 53%, and the working ratio was over 100%. The company was run on a perpetual overdraft and staff were frequently restless due to late payment of salaries. It goes without saying that GVWC’s corporate image was very poor. The interest of development partners in the company had dwindled and the parent Ministry, the Ministry of Water and Energy was exploring opportunities for privatization.
Features of GVWC’s PIP
As part of Technical Assistance to the Ministry of Water and Energy, Adam Smith International with funding from DFID sought the partnership of 2ML Consulting Limited to develop and facilitate the implementation of a quick-win, 100 days Performance Improvement Programme (PIP) that would catalyze the transformation of GVWC into a customer-focused and commercially driven water utility. This initiative got a huge buy-in from the Board of Directors and the Management and Staff of GVWC so much so that by the end of the staff sensitization program that was a precursor to the PIP, the General Manager of GVWC Mr. B. Mansaray was confident to say that ‘we have been providing water, we are now ready to run a company’.
GVWC’s 100 days PIP was focused on three main priority areas including improvement of revenue, reduction of non-revenue water and improvement of customer service. It was characterized by emphasis on a shared vision, cultural change (leadership, attitude, & communication), decentralization & delegation; performance management (goal setting, incentives& penalties, performance agreements) and staff empowerment by including all staff in strategy design.
- Revenue Collection increased by 125%
- Billing Increased by 37%
- Non Revenue Water Reduced by 19%
- Better skills attracted to GVWC
- Greatly improved local and international corporate image
- Global Water Leaders’ Distinction Award, April 2013; an unprecedented honor for an African Country.
- Renewed development partner interest in the Sierra Leone Water sector with banks, donors and suppliers coming forward to identify opportunities of collaboration with GVWC.
- Better employee morale