Water filtration manufacturer Pentair PLC has joined with Coca-Cola Co. to bring the first “ekocenter” offering filtered water and solar-powered charging stations to an underserved rural village in Rwanda, company officials announced Wednesday.
The site, two hours from the capital of Kigali, will provide 25,000 residents in Ruhunda for the first time with Wi-Fi access, mobile charging stations, a retail store and up to 20,000 liters of purified water a day.
The ekocenter creates “a sustainable economic model to ensure we have a lasting impact,” said Pentair CEO Randy Hogan. “The idea is to create a community center of sorts.”
Pentair donated two water purification systems to clean the village’s well water. The result is water that exceeds standards set by the World Health Organization, the company said.
The ekocenter opened Monday with a ceremony led by Hogan, Rwandan President H.E. Paul Kagame, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Other partners include mobile communications company Ericsson; German solar power firm Solarkiosk; and telecom operator TIGO Rwanda.
Included in the project are an adjacent medical office and solar-powered lights to make the nearby soccer field the only fully lit one outside Kigali.
Hogan said that, while the technology is great, he was “most thrilled by our people and how our employees are connected to the local residents of Ruhunda and how grateful they were to have the clean water.”
Pentair, which is based in England but largely managed from Golden Valley, has up to 50 employees in Kenya and Nigeria who fly in to service various projects in Rwanda, including this new philanthropic mission that involves two filtration systems worth roughly $10,000 each, Hogan said.
Two local residents have been trained by Pentair and will run the water kiosk for villagers who will pay 6 cents for 20 liters of clean water.
The venture is the latest in which Pentair has collaborated with Coca-Cola’s socially responsible ekocenters, a program Coca-Cola started in 2013 as a way to teach entrepreneurship while also providing services in poor, remote communities.
Last year, Pentair Foundation filtered 50 million liters of water for 22 of the ekocenters in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Vietnam.
Beyond its partnership with Coca-Cola, the Pentair Foundation has donated $10 million in cash and equipment to other philanthropic causes that delivered treated water to 3 million people since 1998.
It’s a small part of the overall Pentair corporation, which boasts $6.4 billion in annual revenue.
The company specializes in manufacturing, installing and servicing water filters, flow-control systems for coffee and dairy operations and industrial pumps and valve equipment for oil/gas, agriculture, factory and municipality customers around the world.
Pentair has operations in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and other parts of Africa that mostly provide filtration, crop-spray and pump equipment for breweries, soft-drink firms, dairies, large farms and oil firms.