ETHIOPIA – Local Ethiopian company, Mulugeta Mekonnen Melesse has joined the competitive water bottling industry in the country with an investment of 100 million Br (US$2.5m) for the establishment of a plant.

According to reports by Addis Fortune, the facility located in Amhara Regional State, northern Ethiopia is spread across 4,000Sqm of land and is 50% complete.

Expected to be finalized by mid next year, 2021, the company has so far drilled two water wells each 25m deep to feed the plant which will have a production capacity of 24,000lt of water an hour.

Though the brand name for the bottled water is yet to be disclosed, the firm will produce the water in 500ml, one-litre, and two-litre bottles.

By venturing into the water bottling business, Mulugeta Mekonnen Melesse is diversifying its operations from flour milling and exports of cereal crops and pulse seeds.

Ethiopia has recently witnessed mushrooming of water bottling companies, currently standing at about 100 bottlers, in drive to boost access of safe and contamination free water by the locals.

Despite the increasing investment in the sector, the bottlers produce only 3.7 billion litres of water a year, satisfying 5% of the water demand.

The industry is also faced with lack of specialized water testing laboratories and has been forced to spend foreign currency sending water samples abroad for testing.

In addition to the foreign currency expenditure, results take a long time to be submitted.

To resolve the issue, the Ethiopia Water Technology Institute is constructing a specialised laboratory for water testing and research at a cost of 145 million Br (US$3.8m).

The lab fully funded by the government, will be the first of its kind in the country and will not only undertake quality analysis of drinking water but also for irrigation, and agro-processing.

The testing conducted will measure the content of the water and determine safety and suitability for its intended utilisation in line with the standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The two-storey laboratory, which lies on 1,770Sqm of land in the Aqaki Qality District, is expected to be operational in February 2021.

Some of the tests to be conducted at the facility include chemical, micro-biological, and radiation evaluation that assesses the mineral content, microbial contamination, and the amount of radiation in the water.

Heavy metal content, pesticide residuals and chromatography tests were previously sent abroad since the existing local facilities have shortages in human resources, machinery and standards.

The lab will also enable public and private institutions to conduct testing without payment if they can supply the chemicals and reagents needed to carry out the testing.

In addition to that, the institution is building a new facility for irrigation and water management training at the cost of 130 million Br.

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