RIYADH: The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) has launched the latest phase of its restructuring of regional water facilities under the umbrella of the National Water Co. (NWC), as part of the Kingdom’s wider privatization strategy.
On Sunday, Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli, minister of environment, water and agriculture, launched the integration of the Western Cluster, around the Makkah region, and the Southern Cluster, consisting of the Asir, Jazan, Najran, and Al-Baha regions.
The two clusters will be restructured under the NWC parent entity and are part of plans for all 13 regions in the Kingdom to be integrated into six clusters, which will then operate under centralized management.
This latest step comes after the NWC succeeded in integrating the regions in the north into the Northwestern Cluster in November, without any disruption to service. The long-term aim is to have the water distribution sector fully integrated by the end of the year.
The NWC said in a press statement that the cluster integration process was organized to prepare the industry for private sector investment “in order to increase the efficiency of operational processes, redress technical gaps, and localize technology and technical expertise.”
Increased privatization of government assets is a core function of the Vision 2030 program. In May, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said the Kingdom was seeking to raise about $55 billion over the next four years through its privatization program.
Al-Jadaan said he expects to raise $38 billion through asset sales and $16.5 billion through public-private partnerships, the Financial Times reported.
The Saudi government has identified 160 projects in 16 sectors, including asset sales and public-private partnerships through 2025.
Asset sales will include government-owned hotels, television broadcasting towers, and cooling and water desalination plants. The plan does not include Public Investment Fund entities or the sale of other assets of Saudi Aramco.
The National Privatization Center in March also announced the creation of the Registry of Privatization Projects, a comprehensive central database of information and documents related to projects targeted for privatization.