Grundfos enables 24-hour access to water for remote communities in Ghana

Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), the utility that supplies potable water to all urban residents in Ghana, is rolling out a new way of providing round-the-clock service to poorer communities - it is installing Grundfos AQTaps, which are solar-powered, ATM-style water dispensers.

The AQTaps will provide convenient access to water, at whatever time of day people need it, for these communities and will also streamline revenue collection with smarter methods. 


The situation 

Lack of infrastructure means people in low-income urban communities in Ghana have no piped water to their homes and must go to a communal standpipe to buy and collect water. The challenge for GWCL, ever since it introduced these standpipes, has been to make it a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service. The problem is that payment for the water must be made on the spot to a vendor stationed at the standpipe - but the vendor goes home at night, leaving the standpipe closed. 

One of the communities that has struggled with this is Salaga, the capital of East Gonja district in the Savannah region of Ghana. 

“The difficulty has been that the vendor would be closed when we need water in the middle of the night,” says Salaga resident Chief Yakubu, who is chief elder of the Kpembe traditional area. “So we have to wait until the morning to get access to water. When the vendor leaves for the day, we have to deal with this inconvenience of not having access to water.”

Residents fetch water from a public standpipe during the day


The solution 

To solve the problem to everyone’s satisfaction, in 2020 GWCL acquired Grundfos AQTaps - an automated, always-on water dispenser - in a process facilitated by a Grundfos local distributor, Bilqis International Ghana Limited.

Since Bilqis entered into partnership with Grundfos, it has distributed a wide range of products - including submersible pumps, large-capacity raw-water pumps, low-lift pumps and building pumps, among others - in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and other countries in the region. Bilqis played a significant role in making GWCL aware of how AQTaps could address the water access problem. 

The Grundfos AQTap is an intelligent water dispenser with an integrated platform for revenue collection that enables a water management system to provide a reliable water supply in which all transactions are logged. This platform allows for the processing and publication of data from operations. 

To obtain water from an AQTap, users need a specially designed payment card, known as a WaterCard, which is placed on the AQTap to activate it. Consumers load credit onto their WaterCards directly, either through local water-credit vendors or a mobile credit platform. When consumers collect water, the fee is automatically deducted in a transparent way, which helps them to take control of their water consumption. 

“Feedback on the Gundfos AQTap has been great so far,” says Richard Appiah Otoo, chief manager of technology and innovation at GWCL. “It has been particularly welcomed by people who require water at night, when a vendor cannot be stationed at a standpipe. They can now get access to water 24/7 through this intuitive, user-friendly system.”  

An AQTap in Salaga, ready to be commissioned


Fifty AQTaps have already been installed in Salaga, one of the communities selected as a pilot test case. 

The Salaga pilot will be the foundation for rolling out AQTaps across all low-income urban communities in Ghana, which will help to provide round-the-clock water access to about 3 million people who now collect water at GWCL’s communal standpipes.  

The outcome 

The fifty Grundfos AQTaps currently installed in Salaga are expected to cater to about 18,000 people who do not have water piped to their homes due to the high costs involved. The AQTap solution dramatically lowers service cost for low-income urban populations, removes the uncertainty around revenue collection and provides 24/7 access to water. 

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