Zafrir Vaknin, who was speaking at breakfast with the media, said that the company that has been operating in Angola for 10 years is now starting its activities in other African countries, such as Ivory Coast, with water systems, and Senegal with agricultural irrigation infrastructure.
On Wednesday, a financial contract will be signed to develop a water supply project in 95 villages in Côte d'Ivoire, replicating the Água para Todos program "with some modifications", he stressed.
The Água para Todos programme, developed in two phases and launched when José Eduardo dos Santos was still President of Angola, aimed at introducing integrated and sustainable water supply infrastructure in rural areas.
In total, US$274 million were invested in the two phases of the programme, which ran from 2013 to 2020, with interventions in 214 villages in five Angolan provinces.
The target was to bring water to 80 percent of the rural population, but it is estimated that this percentage is currently around 25 to 30 percent.
The chief executive of the company of Israeli origin, based in Switzerland, explained that one of the main challenges of the program was logistics, due to the difficulties in accessing some areas and guaranteed that some lessons were learned, stressing that the "simplicity and low maintenance " of the projects are decisive.
"We absorbed knowledge in those times in terms of logistics and technology. We had ideas to introduce more sophisticated innovations, which seemed good to us, but we are not going to adopt them. We learned the lesson of simplifying the project as much as possible, and that is what the client wants too", he stressed.
Despite "a lot of money and effort having been invested" in the Água para Todos program, the targets were far from the objectives and currently only 35 to 40 percent of the villages keep the systems in operation and "are working well".
Zafrir Vaknin considered, however, that "the project itself was a success" until the end of the 12 months of maintenance that were still contracted and stated that the local authorities were alerted to the need to get involved and help take care of the infrastructures.
The company is currently focused on urban areas and currently has several projects underway, some in partnership with other Mitrelli subsidiaries such as Kora (construction and real estate).
By September, it intends to launch new programs such as Proágua, in partnership with France's Suez, valued at 200 million euros, and two water supply systems in Bailundo (Huambo) and Andulo (Bié), valued at 80 million dollars .
According to the same official, the financing of Owini's projects is diversified. In addition to Luminar, which finances only Mitrelli projects (both belonging to the universe of Menomadin, the group of Israeli millionaire Haim Taib), they have export credit agencies and resort to Israeli and international banking, as well as international financial institutions.
As for the start of Proágua, Owini is ready to go ahead at any time, just waiting for the 'downpayment' (advance) from the government, he said.
Companies from other countries should be involved in the work, including Portuguese ones, which have been partners in other Mitrelli projects, he added.
The project, which consists of reinforcing the operational capacity of the Public Water Company of Luanda, provides for the rehabilitation of Luanda's water distribution network, repair of Water Treatment Stations (ETA), increased water production and transfer of knowledge and management over six years (three implementation and three follow-up).
Owini currently employs around 100 workers (21 foreigners and 72 of Angolan nationality) and, according to Zafrir Vaknin, has invested in recruiting more national staff, including engineers.
In June, the company intends to promote a job fair to recruit young Angolan professionals who can contribute with new skills, he added.