LWB, Eng. Chikuni Shortlisted for African Utility Week Industry Awards

Written by  Sam Phiri
For the second time the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and its Chief Executive Officer Engineer Alfonso Chikuni have been nominated for the sixth edition of African Utility Week Industry Awards.
Chikuni (left) briefing Lilongwe based reporter Chikuni (left) briefing Lilongwe based reporter
07
May
The awards will take place next Wednesday on 15th May, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
 
Lilongwe Water Board has been nominated and shortlisted for the Water Service Provider of the Year category while Eng. Chikuni is in for an individual award, Outstanding Contribution: Water. LWB once won the award in 2017.
 
Speaking to MBC in an interview, LWB CEO, Eng. Chikuni described the nominations and shortlisting as a motivation for the Board to keep on improving its services to the satisfaction of its customers. 
 
“It is exciting that as Lilongwe Water Board we are one of the finalists for this prestigious award. Being nominated and shortlisted for such an award clearly demonstrates the efforts we have made over the years in improving water supply services in Lilongwe City,” explained Eng. Chikuni.
 
“I owe my individual nomination to all members of staff. To be where we are, requires teamwork and we have proven that we are a team driven by the desire to make a difference in our city. I hope our customers will be as more excited as we are.”
 
On the Water Service Provider of the Year (2019), the Board is one of the finalists for Water Service Provider of the Year category alongside reputable organizations like Umgeni water, Hessequa Municipality and Ontec Systems (Pty) Ltd. 
 
The shortlisting of the awards follows some innovative strides the Board has made in the past two years in improving delivery of water services in Lilongwe City. Between 2017 and 2019, LWB has, among others, developed a hydraulic model; introduced prepaid metering system; launched a new billing system with customer interface; adopted Enterprise Resource planning (ERP) and SCADA systems; launched state-the-of-art 24/7 Customer Call-Centre and various pieces of equipment for modernizing service delivery. 
 
The Customer Call-Centre has transformed service delivery at LWB and improved communication and interaction with customers; now the Board is a darling to its customers as it has created a powerful interface by being available for its customers 24/7.
 
For the first time the Board has also launched an asset management program e.g. the World Bank Group funded Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project (LWSP) which aims at reducing water losses, improving water supply and eliminating bottlenecks in the supply system through replacement, rehabilitation and installation of pipes, pumping mains and booster stations.
 
 
On the other hand, Eng. Alfonso Chikuni is one of the finalists for the Outstanding Contribution: Water category. Eng. Chikuni has been shortlisted alongside Andre Kruger (Head: Africa Investment & Integration Desk (AVID), Damas Alfred Mashauri (Professor: Civil Engineering, University of Namibia: Engineering & IT), and Andras Szollosi-Nagy (President: Governing Board - Sustainable Development Studies Institute, National University of Public Service).
 
Eng. Chikuni has been shortlisted for the award due to his tremendous and enormous contributions to improved Water Services delivery in Lilongwe City since he took over as CEO in 2014. Soon after assuming the position, Eng. Chikuni did a diagnostic assessment of the institution and developed a turnaround strategy to improve performance of Lilongwe Water Board. The following were specific issues that he looked at: 
− Challenges faced by LWB
− Key Performance Factors for LWB
− Transformative Strategic Plan
− Unbundling Reforms
− Performance Turnaround Strategy for LWB
− Roadmap to Success
− Strategies for Immediate Implementation
− Monitoring and Evaluation, risk management and strategic communication
 
Through his leadership and guidance LWB has, among others:
i. Developed the 2015 – 2020 Strategic Plan
ii. Was transformed from loss making to profit making organization in a few years
iii. Increased supply coverage by more than 10% from 69% in 2014 to 83.4% in 2018
iv. Increased number of customers or connections from 60,000 to 83,500
v. Increased revenue collection efficiency through enhanced revenue collection strategies, innovation and building customer loyalty (collection efficiency moved from 47% to 85% in a few years)
vi. Reducing costs through innovative measures
vii. Increasing capacity to deliver services by initiation and completion of infrastructure projects
viii. Introducing change agenda and systems for enhanced decision making 
ix. Conducting benchmarking activities locally and hosting of an international water conference (AfWA STC) as a company to aspire in the regional or global water sector
x. Being recognized by the Malawi Government as Best Performer parastatal in public service delivery in 2017
xi. Being recognized as best performing water utility in Africa at a similar competition two years ago in 2017
xii. Prudent management of a drought situation that hit Malawi in the 2016/2017 year
 
 
The sixth edition of the African Utility Week Industry Awards takes place on Wednesday, 15 May during the 19th annual African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa, in Cape Town, South Africa. The Industry Awards brings together 800 of Africa’s most renowned power, energy and water industry professionals, many of them long standing attendees of African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa.
 
All entries are judged by a panel of recognized Industry Experts and verified by an independent auditing firm, Mazars.
 
Other categories at the Awards include outstanding contribution: power, lifetime achievement, young leader award, power service provider of the year. 

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