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Opinions of Thursday, 28 May 2015

Columnist: Manchie, Selagbe Kwame

The confluence of ‘pure water’, greed and magnus nunoo

By Selagbe Kwame Manchie

Unlike many others, I drink sachet water. It's popularly known as 'pure water'. I don't have a choice - I have never had water flowing through my taps since I relocated to Accra in 2004. I buy water from tankers every other week, or fortnightly at best. I cannot vouch for the purity of the water they bring to me. Except for drinking, I put it to for every other use.

I cannot afford bottled water as a way of life. For 'shege' reasons, I procure bottled water once in a while, or when 'pure water' is not within reach. For me, the 'pure water' business is a powerful innovation by a capitalist feeding on government's inability to provide the citizenry with clean, decent drinking water. One man who is credited to have started 'pure water' revolution is Magnus Nunoo, CEO of Magvlyn Industries. I applaud Magnus and wish to be like him.

Unfortunately, the same Magus irks me intensely these days. As President of the Sachet Water Producers Association, he has brazenly promoted anti-free market initiatives; the overall aim is impoverishment of Ghanaians like me.

In February 2014, Magnus Nunoo, the President of the National Association of Sachet and Packaged Water Producers (NASPAWAP) announced an increase in price of pure water. Citing increasing electricity and water costs, Mr Nunoo on behalf the association slapped a 50% increase on a unit of the product. Surprisingly, not a whimper was raised by any Ghanaian.

Emboldened by the nonchalance of Ghanaians, the dose was repeated in July 2014. Just last week, Mr. Nunoo, as usual, imposed another 50% cost on the price of a sachet.

I am not against price increases, especially against the backdrop of our very difficult economic climate. I am, certainly, against the formation of business cartels with the disingenuous motive to rape and kill Ghanaians.

As stated earlier, I can't vouch for the safety and purity of all sachet water brands produced in Ghana. I have seen people producing sachet water from their car garages. I have seen people drill boreholes at their backyards; channel the ground water through some minimal filtration systems, bag it and it becomes 'pure water'.

I have also been to Mr. Nunoo's factory and seen for myself, appreciable investments in machinery used to produce Mobile drinking water. I have seen his air conditioned offices, plenty staff, innumerable cars etc that feed on returns from selling his 'pure water'. His overheads must be huge! I have monitored his venture into other business- acquisition of a large quarry, production of Garimix etc- all funded by this 'pure water' business.

Now, I need someone to convince me that Mr Nunoo's Magvlyn Industries has the same production costs as an entrepreneur who operates from his garage. So, granted Ghana's economic situation has worsened and Magvlyn Industries ought to adjust the price of its brand, must that be done by NASPAWAP? Do members of NASPAWAP have same input, process and overhead costs?

Why can't Magvlyn Industries cost their product and allow for competitors and Ghanaians to react? Why doesn’t Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc come together to determine the price of fizzy drinks? Apart from fixing prices, what else does NASPAWAP do? Are they concerned about the degradation of the environment by their packaging materials?

If we don't stop this nonsense now, we shall, indirectly, be providing fuel for other business groupings to do same. The result - Ghanaians lose, mafia business people win!