African Fountain: Water service delivery - Fontes GmbH Switzerland
African Fountain is the approach based on long experience to deliver water services to large rural and semi-urban communities through social business models and strong local empowerment.
Fontes GmbH Switzerland is providing water services where needed at the right quality, quantity and price. The plan is to take over, extend and operate existing schemes. The aim is to reach tens of thousands of people, including those at the base of the economic pyramid. The first applications will focus on extension and improvement of Fontesâ€™ water services in Goma, North Kivu. New communities already request our services also in South Kivu.
The aim of Fontes Switzerland - African Fountain is to establish a structure and business model to scale up access to safe water in various African countries with full cost recovery, while also reaching people at the base of the economic pyramid. This will include establishing and improving five key elements:
- Infrastructure extension
- Modular technical solutions
- Fast delivery and installation
- Simple monitoring
- Customer friendly payment solutions
For 2017: An additional 25,000 to 30,000 persons will get access to water services. The monitoring system is developed and implemented. Cash handling and customer payment schemes are developed and related improvements implemented.
For 2018: Hopefully, when political situation and local conditions allow, additional 100,000 persons will get water services towards the end of the year.
Africa - DR Congo - Goma in North Kivu
In the community of Mugunga â€“ Lac Vert (Goma, North Kivu, DR Congo; population of ca. 48'000) about 42,000 persons already receive continuous water services at 31 tap stations and about 140 private house connections. Management structures are in place through the operator Yme Jibu Ltd, a local private company registered in 2017 (Fontes keeps 50% of the shares). Cash flow has been established since June 2016, but is reduced due to significant exchange rate changes. In March 2018, with the support of the Government, water prices have been doubled to roughly about USD 0.06 per jerry can of 20l. So far Fontes Invest Norway and Fontes GmbH Switzerland invested about US$ 75,000. Extensions are being constructed to reach another 12,000 persons. A monitoring system is in place which allows daily follow ups about water sales through a web-based dashboard.
Continuous water service provision has been running since June 2016. Since June 2017 Yme Jibu Ltd managed to increase water sales reaching 10 to 12'000 m3 per month. Since the contract with Swiss Bluetec Bridge was signed, total revenues reached ca. USD 310'000. This covers the operation and small maintenance, operational break-even has been reached but as a social enterprise profit has been used for extensions and new tap stations. Pay-back of investments has just started slowly and irregularly during last months. Also, a huge effort has been invested during last months in negotiating for new project areas, from which concrete requests have been formulated by communities and authorities. However, political and security instability has slowed down the process of starting up activities at new locations.
In addition, although huge efforts have been made over last 4 years to introduce for the staff a mindset with business principles in focus, the project staff still struggles with using the learning and established routines in properly managing resources and needs based on recovered revenues.
Political situation in Eastern Congo is difficult now at the end of 2018 due to postponed elections and related clashes and unsecurities. The water delivery services did not extend as initially planned, butÂ more than 50'000 people have daily safe water from 32 tap stations and 200 house connections, even during unsecure times.
Fontes GmbH Switzerland is a private company with shareholders. Its mission is to mobilize funding through investments from private people in Switzerland. It will make such investments available to the DRC activities through loans. In addition, Fontes Switzerland provides consultancy services in management as well as in technical solutions. It is also working on finding modern and innovative solutions to empower local partners. Fontes GmbH Switzerland is an off-spring of the Norwegian Fontes AS and Fontes Invest AS.