Washing Machines, Household Staple




To deal with the fast-paced routines, we have become heavily dependent on technology to carry out basic household chores. As urban dwellers including Addis Abebans try to multitask in both their personal and professional lives, many gadgets that were once considered a luxury have now become household staples. The city is witnessing a spike in the demand for washing machines as more urbanites are willing to invest in machines that best fit their needs, reports BERHANE HAILEMARIAM, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER


Haymanot Feleke, 28, a housewife and mother of two daughters, has always been complaining about washing clothes by hand, wishing to buy a washing machine.

Hand wash is her last resort as it takes much of her time, and is daunting compared to other tasks she performs at home. It becomes cumbersome especially when she does not have housemaids as she solely bears the workload.

“It is difficult when you have two infants to nourish,” said Haymanot. “Washing clothes becomes frequent because of them.”

Haymanot and her spouse  Belete Gedamu got married four years ago and resided at Arat kilo in a rented house paying 1,250 Br monthly. Their former residence had adequate space for drying and laundry. But they moved to Ayat condominium after winning a raffle two years ago.

Belete, who works as a finance head at a private firm with a gross monthly salary of 10,000 Br, has been planning to purchase a washing machine since their move to their new residential area. He wants to help his spouse by sharing the responsibility at home and managing the chores efficiently.

“I found it mandatory,” said Belete asserting that having a washing machine is worthwhile especially for residents at condominium houses that do not have sufficient spaces for washing and drying the clothes.

Finally, Belete stopped by the door of Potomac Trade & Industry Plc, the sole importer and distributor of Westpoint electronics and home appliances, located at Piassa, inside Welela Commercial Center.

After being briefed by Ibrahim Maru, the sales manager of the company, Belete decided to purchase a manually operated machine with the capacity of washing 14kg of clothes, costing him 13,500 Br.

“These days, people come, ask prices and go out,” a retailer at Gojjam Berneda, recalls his experience during the holiday seasons. He sold a minimum of four to five washing machines a day.



Belete bought the manually operated washing machine that has two motors to wash, spin and dry.

Potomac Trade & Industry offers machines that have a capacity of washing 12kg and 15kg of clothes, believing that these items have a high demand from the public. The prices range from 11,980 Br to 14,380 Br. The company only sells manual washing machines as they are cheaper than the automatic ones. The latter requires uninterrupted electric power and water supply. Thus, they do not fit into country’s context.

“These machines are affordable and occupy minimum space,” Ibrahim said. “They are also fast moving.”

He sells three to five washing machines a day on average.

Another salesperson, Sara Welle, 27, recognises that individuals from medium and high-level economic status are frequent visitors at her shop located in Wellela Commercial Center, retailing Korean brand machines such as LG, Samsung and Daewoo.

Sara’s products have three features: manual, with a single motor, semi-automatic and automatic, which are double motored and have dryers too.

For semi-automatic machines, the boiler should be connected outside to get hot water, but the automatic ones have their own water boiling mechanism. The cost of semi-automatic machines ranges between 13,000 Br to 22,000 Br depending on their capacity.

Fully automatic washing machines wash with hot water, dry almost 100pc by ejecting hot air and releasing steam to prevent the clothes from shrinking. They also treat the clothes based on their fabric composition. Their price ranges from 30,000 Br to 60,000 Br.

Recurrent problems of the washing machines are electrical and mechanical. Electrical issues occur due to poor power supply plugs, sockets, bad earth wires in case of metal water pipes and power fluctuations. To avoid such problems, using voltage stabilisers is advisable.



Sara also sells a new brand called Comet, a product of Turkey imported by Ethelco, which is known for distributing Philips Electronics products.

“During holidays and wedding seasons, we sell up to three machines a day,” said Sara.

However, September is one of the months known for slackened business at these shops. During this month, most people choose to spend on other items as the month marks the beginning of the new academic year and it is also followed by successive holidays.

“These days, people come, ask prices and go out,” a retailer at Gojjam Berneda, recalls his experience during the holiday seasons. He sold a minimum of four to five washing machines a day.

In addition to the most common ones, the market offers different brands such as Salvador and Garad from China, Fresh from Egypt, Arcelik from Turkey, Nikura from Japan, Akira from Singapore and Elegance supplied by Glorious- a company known for importing Sony.

Just like their brands, the machines have many different features; having a top loader, automatic and manual timing systems.

With different features and options, these machines are making peoples’ lives easier by saving time and energy. One of those who has benefited is Woyinshet Alemu, a 29-year-old housewife who resides around Lancia. She purchased her Comet brand 12Kg manual washing machine from Ethelco with 10,450 Br.

“I used to wash clothes myself or hire a daily labourer paying 600 Br monthly,” she recalls.

Despite their broad uses, the machines need special care and handling during usage. Considering this, most of the suppliers give a one year warranty period for free maintenance in case of breakdowns.  But that does not mean the warranty continues for the upcoming years.

The durability of any good is determined by the users’ careful handling, according to Meskerem Wondafrash, a journalist by education but salesperson by profession. She works at Abobel Electronics located on Country Tower in Piassa.

“The more you are cautious with the machine, the longer it stays,” said Meskerem.

Recurrent problems of the washing machines are electrical and mechanical. Electrical issues occur due to poor power supply plugs, sockets, bad earth wires in case of metal water pipes and power fluctuations. To avoid such problems, using voltage stabilisers is advisable.

On the other hand, mechanical problems occur with poor storage of the machines, especially outdoors exposing them to the sun, humidity and dust.

The accessories that are sold together with the new machines are drainage tubes for discharging the dirty water, Water line tubes to connect with tap water and plastic safety cover to protect the clothes from flying out of the drying basket while rotating in the machine.

The filters, which collect fabric lint and specks of dust from clothes when drying, should be checked and cleaned by the user whenever the filter is full.

Using proper liquid detergents and checking the pockets of the clothes and removing coins and other metallic objects before loading the machines, prevent the device from damage.

A marketing expert with long experience perceives the hike in the washing machine demand as a change of lifestyle and economic growth of the people.

“Currently, people are working in more than one job and have no time for washing,” said Alazar Ahmed, the marketing expert.

The surge of the washing machine business has made not only the traders busy, but also the owners of pickups and taxis including the porters, who earn well while transporting these items.

By BERHANE HAILEMARIAM
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER





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