We travel to South Africa to talk to Manel Salvadó, Business Development Manager for South Africa at Almar Water Solutions, provider of specialist expertise and solutions in water infrastructure development, including financing, design and operation, to find out about the company's work in the southernmost country in Africa and the rest of the continent.
Question: Why South Africa?
Answer: It is the most solid economy in Africa, and the financial centre of the region. Its industrial fabric allows local project development, and it has the most important regional communications hub in Africa. Furthermore, South Africa represents 60% of the water infrastructure market in Africa, has solid legislation and a well defined legal framework, and its professionals have a high level of education.
Q: What does Almar Water Solutions offer to the African market?
A: Capacity, knowledge, experience and capital to develop water infrastructure projects.
We contribute factors that make a difference, such as our internal technical capacity to contrast ideas and develop initial project phases quickly and effectively. Another differentiating factor is our knowledge of the continent. We have years of experience working in Africa, something that has made us resilient to deal with market weaknesses. We know the legal frameworks in the countries where we work, and we adapt easily and loyally to their requirements in terms of local participation, understanding the development interests of local economies. We enter the local business landscape to involve the community, and take advantage of their knowledge and capacity to participate in the market.
Q: What are the company's objectives for the coming years?
A: Consolidate the project of the desalination plant in Mombasa, with a capacity of 100 MLD, and achieve financial closure next year. In parallel, we are working on opportunities in the public market through open tenders, and promoting structured financing projects with private agents.
The objectives must go along with the opportunities the market offers. In the next 18 months, 5 PPP water projects will be put out for tender in Africa, and that is our market.
Q: What are the challenges to fund water projects in Africa?
A: All stakeholders involved in PPP projects are making a huge effort to facilitate and accelerate them. Local authorities are streamlining processes, training efforts are multiplying, we are trying to combine spontaneous project proposals with the 'Value for Money' axiom and Development Financial Institutions, and elements are being created to improve project bankability.
Q: Six Nations or Champions?
A: I am more into basketball: NBA and ACB.