ETHIOPIA – Ker Water S.C has invested about US$3.23 million in a new water bottling facility in the Southern Nations, Nationalities & People’s regional state, Ethiopia.

According to AddisFortune report, the new product, branded Ethio Water will be available on the market by the end of this month.

The new plant sits on a 2,700Sqm plot and consists of warehouses, offices and the production floors, with plans to further expand the facilities in the next three months.

With the capacity of 6,000 one-litre bottles an hour and 8,000 half-litre bottles an hour, the plant can produce 144,000L of water a day and 36,000L an hour with the planned expansion.

The facilities were constructed by Azemi Engineering over a period of two years, while the machinery was imported from Turkey at a cost of nearly US$1.07 million.

“Our major challenge was securing foreign currency to import the machinery,” said Yohannes Sehale, one of the nine shareholders and board chairman of Ker Water.

“Nonetheless, we are still planning to go forward with an expansion of the plant.”

Sourced from the spring, the bottled water will be available in half litre and two litre packages.

Ethio Water becomes the 72nd water bottling company in Ethiopia where 3.5 billion bottles of water are produced a year, meeting only 5% of the country’s consumption needs.

The most recent to join the market was Wub Water, a US$5 million investment by Nared Trading located in Chacha Wereda, Amhara Regional State.

Common brands in the segment include Fiker, Eden, Wow and a series of investments will see the debut of others including Nebur, Mountain, Gerare and Xerer.

Businesses are lining up investments in water bottling not only to fill the consumption gap but also create job opportunities and stimulate the economy.

“There are many investment activities in our zone, and we try to provide the necessary support to investors,” Feleke Abate, head of the Gurage Zone Investment Expansion.

“The government should support and give incentives to private investors.”

Despite of these fervent investments, Ethiopia lags behind Kenya in water bottling, which with less than half the population size of Ethiopia, has 600 bottling companies that provide 37.7% of the country’s consumption.