The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia is now in the last phase of a process of restructuring water facilities under the National Water Company (NWC), as part of the country’s privatisation plans, reports Utilities Middle East.
The ministry announced the integration of a Western cluster comprising the Makkah region, and a Southern cluster comprising the Asir, Jazan, Najram, and Al-Baha regions. Both clusters will be under the centralised management of the NWC, and there are plans to integrate the 13 regions in the Kingdom – the first-level administrative divisions in the country – into six clusters. The move follows an earlier step where the regions in the north were integrated into the North-western cluster at the end of 2020.
According to a NWC statement, cluster integration is underway in preparation for private sector investment “in order to increase the efficiency of operational processes, redress technical gaps, and localize technology and technical expertise”. The goal is full integration of the water distribution sector by the end of 2021.
The drive towards government privatisation is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said earlier this year the country expects to raise $55 billion with the privatisation strategy in the coming four years, including $38 billion from selling assets and $16.5 billion with public-private partnerships. Asset sales will include cooling and water desalination plants, as well as hotels and TV broadcasting towers. Projects targeted for privatisation will be documented in a central database known as the Registry of Privatisation Projects.