ETHIOPIA – SBG Mineral Water Company officially launched its new product, ARKI mineral water, from its manufacturing site in Sululta on November 14, 2015, a month after bringing it to the market.

It cost the company 12 million Br for construction and 40 million Br for machinery, says Henok Mulatu, general manager of SBG. It leased 3375sqm for the factory right after getting their licence from the Ethiopian Investment Commission on July 14, 2008.

The company was established by three brothers and their father, who is CEO. The investment licence was issued to the company as a joint venture, because one of the brothers is a foreign national.

Getting the factory to production stage took four years because of the extended time that took to acquire land, to carry out excavation for study and to get the power supply, Henok disclosed to Fortune.

The water, obtained from bore holes, is found at 2620m above sea level. It is bottled in two litres, one litre, 600ml and the 350ml packages.

Now the product is distributed to supermarkets, until hotels get to know the benefits of the small sized bottle in addition to the price difference, said Henok.

The newcomer faces competition from 31 bottled water companies whose products are already on the market, but Henok says SBG’s production process and technology will provide its competitive advantage.

These include Nano Filtration technology, which reduces mineral content in the water; a bottling machine called combi-BFC, which cleans and disinfects the caps with ozonized water.

“Not even a single bottle can be touched by hand,” said Henok.

For Aklilu Kefyalew, beverage processing director at the Ministry of Industry, adding such various technologies to the sector has an impact on the product’s qualities and increases its competitiveness.

“But beyond this, it could also have a side effect for the country, as it requires fewer employees since most of the work is digitalized,” he explained.

Having the capacity of manufacturing 12,000 bottles of water an hour, the company which employs 109 employees, is targeting markets in Adama, Bishoftu, and Addis Abeba.

Currently, SBG has been certified by the Food, Medicine & Health Care Administration & Control Authority (FMHACA) for manufacturing, while it is waiting for standardization by the Ethiopian Conformity Assessment Enterprise (ECAE).