Ghanaian staff say they are ready to take over from AVRL
The local staff members of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL) have said they are prepared to take over from the expatriates when their five-year management contract ends in 2011.
“We are more than ready to take over the operations of the urban water system from 2011,” said Mr. Daniel Moumolah, Director of Operations of AVRL.
“An assessment of the competencies of the local staff at the inception of AVRL’s five-year management contract, showed that the local staff were more qualified than the expatriates, save their poor attitude to work,” said Mr. Moumolah.
Mr. Moumolah is one of the local management members seconded from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), the grantor, to AVRL. He and other local staff constitute 50 per cent of the 14-member AVRL management team.
As many as 2,993 of the 3,000 staff members of AVRL are local staff, out of which 2,840 were seconded from GWCL.
Critics of the AVRL Management Contract have asked if the local experts at GWCL like Moumolah and his colleagues seconded to AVRL could not have performed better if they had been given the same resources given to the expatriates.
Mr. Patrick Apoya, Executive Secretary of the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), asked whether the local management staff members of AVRL were prepared enough to succeed the expatriates at AVRL.
CONIWAS had always maintained that given the same amount of World Bank funding the expatriate received at the inception of their five-year contract, the local management team of GWCL who were seconded to AVRL, would have probably performed better than the expatriates.
But after getting a detailed briefing of the real challenges of the urban water sector and the expert intervention of the expatriates, he questioned the preparedness of the local management team to perform with the same passion, attitude and expertise as the expatriates.
In response to Apoya’s query, Mr. Moumolah said the only difference between the expatriates and the local staff was attitude to work, saying that over the past three years the expatriates have helped to improve positive attitude to work and that had positioned the local team well to take over in two years.
“Since the expatriate have been here they have insisted on senior staff members reporting to work at 0800 hours and junior staff members at 0815 hours and that has been working very fine,” he said.
Mr. Andy Barber, Managing Director of AVRL, an expatriate, said he was confident that the local team could take over when the AVRL five year contract is not renewed in 2011.
He, however, noted that if the government wanted the expatriates to stay to help to concretise and optimise benefits from the management structures put in place, AVRL would be willing to do so.
“We are always ready to offer our expertise to make the urban water distribution and revenue generation work effectively in Ghana, but we do not want any part of moves to privatise water production and management for profit,” he said.
AVRL was competitively awarded a five-year World Bank (WB) funded contract, in November 2005, as operator of the urban water sector on non-profit basis, with GWCL as the grantor.
Under the $120 million contract, AVRL was mandated to make the urban water sector financially viable by improving water distribution and revenue collection; cutting down on non-revenue water; reducing chemical usage and cost; reducing energy consumption and cost; and protecting sources of potable water.
GWCL, as the grantor, was mandated to make all the capital investment regarding the large scale expansion works on the water production system.
The contract sum comprised of US$103 million grant from the World Bank, US$12 million counter-funding from the Government of Ghana and five million dollars from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) directly to AVRL for administrative expenses over the five years.
Since AVRL came, they have established a Meter Workshop where thousands of water meters, donated by Vitens of Holland, are calibrated and distributed to customers’ homes, a toll free call centre and a novelty Geographical Identification System (GIS) through which all customers have been captured in a computer-base data and thousands of illegal and evasive consumers have now been roped into the metering and billing system.