A model utility in the African region, National Water & Sewerage Corporation has continued to go from strength to strength, thanks to its incredible dedication to serving its consumers and an aspiration approach to long-term goals and development. Endeavour Magazine interviewed Dr. Eng Silver Mugisha, Managing Director, to find out more.
National Water & Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) is a national utility that supplies the region of Uganda with the clean water and sewerage systems that is so desperately needs and is proactive in offering these services to as many areas as possible. So much so in fact, that Dr. Mugisha revealed how an aggressive period of expansion was undertaken to meet demand,
“Expansion of the geographical coverage has resulted in an increase in the number of NWSC service towns from 24 to 178 towns across the country in just a space of three years. This is a significant transformation in the business and service model of the Corporation and has redefined NWSC’s role in the Uganda Water Sector and service delivery industry.”
The reason for this dramatic growth? An inherent understanding of the growing demand for water and sewerage services that has come about as a direct result of an increase in the number of towns that are springing up, which in turn, necessitates continued infrastructure development and improvement. The only problem is that environmental conditions have a tendency to make things more difficult,
“The Corporation has taken bold measures to avert the intermittent water supply situation in the country, especially in the newly taken over towns, through implementation of the Water Supply Stabilisation Programme (WSSP). The programme entails implementation of quick win measures in the upstream to enhance water production and supply reliability. The implementation of a number of programmes has successfully improved water supply reliability and accessibility. Areas previously devoid of services now have piped water services, while a number of dry zones (areas with inadequate supply) have been converted into wet zones with more regular water supply regimes. The Corporation faces challenges of inadequate infrastructure in the face of growing demand and environmental degradation, which is affecting both the availability and quality of raw water and financing challenges, while maintaining a service delivery tariff. All these challenges are being faced head on with practical engineering, financing and management solutions.”
While you might not necessarily think that a national utility would face the same competitive issues as other commercial operations, NWSC has taken it upon itself to actually create a global standard to live up to. As well as priding itself on exemplar business stability and sustainability, NWSC is striving towards long-term goals of becoming “the leading customer centred water utility in the world”, reflecting both a desire to the very best within the industry, while always retaining a clear focus on the people that matter most; consumers. Dr. Mugisha emphasised the point even further,
“Our mission statement – “To sustainably and equitably provide cost effective, quality water and sewerage services to the delight of all stakeholders, while conserving the environment”, is anchored on three pillars namely the proliferation and sustainability of services, the focus on the customer, and lastly the contribution towards the conservation of the environment. In pursuing our vision and mission, our customer business stability and sustainability statement for the long-term is “Water for All, for a Delighted Customer by a Delighted Workforce”.
Speaking of workforces, the team in place at NWSC is substantial at 3300-strong and makes no bones about the fact that it is at the forefront the amazing service delivery that it is so renowned for. To that end, continuous motivation and empowerment of every individual employed by the company is a key focal point, which has resulted in extensive training and development opportunities, as well as comprehensive skill identification endeavours. Vocational skill strengthening and internal management development initiatives have been firmly put into place with a view to amplifying the core strengths of every team member, from the top down, but it’s not just technical skills that are focused on,
“We also strengthen behavioural attitudes of staff, guided by a set of values set by the Board, through various forms of coaching and mentoring activities.”
With an enviable reputation already garnered and a team of highly motivated and committed staff in place, it comes as no surprise that NWSC has been able to invest in exciting new developments, in a bid to remain at the very cutting edge of utility provision. A new water treatment plant, located to the east of Kampala, is one of the most intensive development projects currently being curated, but there are also serious IT innovations being undertaken as well. One thing that is abundantly clear is that none of these undertakings are being taken lightly or for vanity purposes, however, as the customer-centric motives are always at the core of every new plan,
“We launched the Customer Relationship Model (CRM) where every customer is taken care of by a customer relationship officer. All this is aimed at ensuring customer delight. We are leveraging new technology to better serve our customer. We are piloting packaged waste water treatment technology to ensure increase in our sewerage services, including replication to many other operational towns. We have also completed plans to implement an ambition plan codenamed 100 percent Service Coverage Acceleration Project (SCAP100) aimed at extending water to an additional 12,000 villages within our operational areas to reach 100% water service coverage by 2020.”
Can you imagine the peace of mind that customers must enjoy, knowing that the NWSC has made a determined commitment to always improving its services? This is truly a company that has sought to meet a need and do so with a personal touch and so many global corporations could stand to take serious inspiration from this approach. There’s no smoke and mirrors here, only clear and transparent operations with the consumer in mind, which is why the future looks set to be positive and more successful than ever,
“We are confident that in the next 3-5 years, we will have reached our target of 100% service coverage in all our areas of operation. Our current investment in infrastructure expansion, uplifting the profile and delivery of water and sewerage services, provision of subsidised services to the urban poor and enhanced collaboration with various stakeholders will give us tangible benefits in reliable, sustainable and efficient service delivery gains. These gains will be best demonstrated by increased geographical coverage, water supply reliability, efficient operations, a strong and sustainable financial position, increased participation in environmental conservation.”
Inspiring, innovative and operating with the best interests of staff and customers at the core of every endeavour, NWSC is singlehandedly redefining the standards by which all corporations should be judged and we look forward to celebrating its future successes, which are all but guaranteed.