RIYADH: Environment, Water and Agriculture Minister Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli says that the volume of desalinated water produced in the Kingdom will be doubled during the next 15 years to cater to the growing demand.
At present, the Kingdom is producing 4.6 million of cubic meters of desalinated water daily from its 29 desalination plants spread throughout the Kingdom.
The minister was delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the two-day Water Investment Forum 2016 in Riyadh on Saturday.
A top official said Saudi Arabia could need more than $53 billion in water sector investment supported by private funds as demand grows.
“Future plants will be tendered to the private sector,” Ali Al-Hazmi, Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) governor, told the Water Investment Forum.
“We have everything ready for privatization,” AFP quoted him as saying.
Saudi water demand is increasing by more than five percent annually, Al-Hazmi said.
By 2020 Saudi Arabia is targeting 52 percent of desalinated water production through “strategic partners.”
Saudi Arabia obtains most of its water from desalination and the rest from ground sources.
“This requires a lot of money and a lot of capital investment,” Mansour Al-Mushaiti, a deputy minister with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, told the forum. “We are envisaging that the capital requirements in the next five years will reach up to SR200 billion ($53.3 billion),” AFP quoted him as saying.
Five agreements on water related projects between private enterprises were signed at the event under the supervision of the minister.
Following the inauguration of the forum, the minister also opened an exhibition that highlighted the investment opportunities in the Kingdom.
More than 350 experts, international specialists, local and foreign investors were present at the forum.
The forum is being held under the slogan, “Building a strategic partnership for promising opportunities,” aimed to promote investment and partnership with the private sector in the field of water in various competencies (production, processing, transportation and distribution) and presenting investment opportunities in the water sector in the Kingdom and the exchange of ideas with government agencies and private organizations at the regional and global level.
The minister said that the meeting is organized to achieve the goals of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP 2020).
The Water Investment Forum 2016 acts as a platform that brings together investors and key national and global water players to promote investment opportunities in the Kingdom, he said.
Some of the many venture prospects include new IWPPs (Independent Water & Power Producers), renewable technologies in desalination, O&M contract for water production and transmission, externalization of shared services, localization of manufacturing, and research partnerships.
In addition, the forum will also announce facilities offered to investors, and highlight the substantial advantages of investing in the Kingdom.
It will emphasize public-private-partnerships (PPP), sharing many successful PPP stories in the Saudi water sector.
SWCC, created in 1974, is the world’s largest producer of desalinated water. It operates 28 plants and as part of the process is able to generate electricity for the national power grid.