Two French water companies, Societe des Eaux de Marseille and Vivendi Water, are frontrunners for water management contracts in Algiers and Constantine respectively, industry sources say. The client is Agence Nationale de l’Eau Potable & Industrielle & de l’Assainissement (AGEP . MEED 24:12:99).

The two contracts will be financed by the World Bank which has allocated $30 million for the Algiers project and $25 million for work in Constantine. The bank has approved the choice of Societe des Eaux de Marseille for the Algiers project. The company is in the final stages of negotiation with AGEP and expects to sign the deal by November at the latest, a company spokesman says. The World Bank has yet to approve Vivendi for management of the Constantine project, but AGEP is understood to have put the company forward as the proposed candidate.

The two four-year management contracts involve mapping of the networks, provision of technical assistance and the establishment of commercial and financial management systems and in the case of Algiers, the substantial rehabilitation of the drinking water network. The objective is to reduce the leakage rate to 20 per cent from 45 per cent. The water network in Algiers supplies a population of some 2.6 million, while that of Constantine reaches about 950,000 in total.