Grundfos is leveraging its international experience and reputation to tackle one of East Africa’s most critical social challenges in the form of sustainable water provision
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Matt Cole-Wilkin
Enjoying an influence across 56 countries via 83 companies, Grundfos is among the world’s most extensive and experienced operators in the water technology market; a saturation that is inevitably thriving across its sub-Saharan African markets, including Kenya.
Poul Due Jensen founded the Company from his basement in Denmark back in 1945, incepting with just one water pump. Numerous expansions, diversifications, tweaks and innovations later, Grundfos remains a pioneer in the space, and especially in East and Central Africa where such solutions have proved to be a vital contributor to countries’ water challenges.
“Grundfos as a brand has been in Kenya for more than 50 years now, though until 2013 it was through representation by distributors,” introduces the Company’s Managing Director for East Africa, David Githendu. “As from 2013, Grundfos was established in Kenya as a sales company with a responsibility of covering the East and Central African region.
“The main areas of business now are focused on building services, water utility and industrial applications. We focus on supporting the market through product and application training, driving specifications in the market and aftersales service support.”
From Grundfos’ Kenyan base, the business caters for 17 nations in the region virtue of its resident country managers, various partnership agreements, or distribution channels.
Githendu adds: “We are looking to strengthen our reach to offer our services even more comprehensively to the other East and Central African countries; spreading our aspiration to be a global leader and trendsetter in advanced pump solutions and water technologies.”
The Company’s history offers no reason to doubt that such a goal can be realised, Grundfos having achieved numerous firsts over its tenure, including being the first enterprise to develop the submersible borehole pump out of stainless steel back in the mid-60s. Subsequently becoming the Company’s flagship product, it has been instrumental in bringing water to millions of people all over the world; later compounded by the pioneering of its solar powered submersible pumps introduced in the 1980s.
“Grundfos’ product development is driven by a need to be responsible in energy use and all products developed are of high energy efficiency,” Githendu says. “We focus on total lifecycle costs of products and not on short-term initial costs, and thereby maximise customer value for money in the long-term.
“To be responsive to today’s digital trends, Grundfos has driven innovation initiatives in intelligent pump solutions in all its product areas to further give user comfort and optimise energy usage.”
People, sustainability and partnerships
Grundfos Kenya’s setup in Nairobi is geared towards capitalising on the broad spectrum of services and innovations that exist within the Company’s portfolio, facilitating heightened technical support to the market in terms of applications and specifications of products, as well as aftersales support.
“We have set up a competence centre for sub-Saharan Africa for Grundfos Remote Management, a platform where Grundfos installations all over the continent are viewed and monitored, to ensure catastrophic breakdowns are avoided and to make it easy to schedule maintenance,” Githendu elaborates. “Our success has been based on the Grundfos values of being focused on people, sustainability and partnerships. We attract and retain the very best people to support our business and also forge strong partnerships with our customers and stakeholders, and this has been key to our success.”
Inevitably, such a strong internal makeup has translated into a plethora of high-profile and landmark projects, especially in its primary areas of commercial building services, water utilities and industrial applications; in each case working closely with engineering consultants so as to bring the right equipment and solutions to fit each end application.
“We then work closely with contractors who are awarded those projects to help them in the process of implementation and to ensure the right equipment for the job has been installed,” Githendu continues. “We further support them with commissioning and aftersales support which includes maintenance service contracts.
“Some of the main projects that we are proud of having achieved together with our partners include: pressure boosting and firefighting pumps for Two Rivers Mall in Nairobi; pressure boosting, firefighting and wastewater pumps for Britam Tower in Nairobi; pressure boosting and firefighting equipment for Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi; raw water intake and high lift pumping equipment for Same Mwanga Water Supply Project in Northern Tanzania; and vertical turbine pumps for mining applications in KICO mine in Kipushi, DRC.”
The business is also currently working with DRC’s water utility company, REGIDESO on Kinshasa’s water treatment rehabilitation, emphasising the variety of operations, and indeed geographies that Grundfos is able to cater for.
Githendu rounds up: “We are also working with our partners, Davis & Shirtliff in Uganda where we are looking at supporting the National Water Company with supply and installation of prepaid water dispensing systems for rural and urban water supply projects. This project will ensure that the National Water Company effectively collects revenue for the water supplied through mobile money platforms, thereby enhancing sustainability of its water supply programme.”
Synonymous with innovation
As is clear to see from Grundfos’ ever-expanding footprint in East and Central Africa, opportunities for future business in these regions are vast, and the Company is keen to leverage the exciting GDP growth that is occurring in many nations.
Economic prosperity is being turned into infrastructural development for many, and the priority then becomes water supply across growing populations - a trend which Grundfos is primed to turn into a competitive advantage.
“Particularly in Kenya, we see the new system of decentralisation of authority to the county governments which are now empowered to come up with their own development plans,” Githendu explains. “All these developments mean that the market for our products in our region is growing. Grundfos Kenya is gearing itself up to be there to serve these growing needs and to capitalise on the opportunities that they present.”
While waiting for these opportunities to reach fruition, Grundfos has spent a lot of time, effort and money on ensuring that every strand of its internal structure is refined, to allow its customer-facing operations to run smoothly.
A development of its Grundfos Product Centre epitomises this ongoing strategy, while the business is also in the process of expanding capacities, increasing efficiencies and harnessing modern trends such as digitisation, climate change effects and energy consumption. The Company’s “focus on people” then allows for all aforementioned investments and improvements to have the desired effect, being operated by employees who receive the requisite motivation, remuneration and upskilling to succeed.
“Knowledgeable staff is one of our main competitive advantages, alongside our customer support and quality products,” Githendu concludes. “Generally, the Grundfos brand is synonymous with innovation, and our plan moving forward is therefore to strengthen our footprint in the region with this innovation.
“We are looking to introduce a few more branches in key focus markets; creating a stronger brand image and greater capacity so as to handle bigger projects and serve a growing market.”