Water scarcity is one of the main constraints on Jordan’s economic development. A high population growth rate and influxes of refugees have compounded the problem. ‘Total demand is approaching 1,000 million cubic metres a year, which approximates the limit of Jordan’s renewable and economically developable water resources,’ said El-Naser. As a result, the government is focusing its attention on several large-scale projects which require considerable foreign investment.

‘Private sector participation.would assist in realising these water projects without any delay,’ said El-Naser. ‘Some components that would be directly provided by the private sector would include build-operate-transfer [BOT] and build-own-operate [BOO] water and wastewater projects.’

The most ambitious of these projects is the Red-Dead canal. ‘This is a huge integrated development project, which is very important for the private sector as well as the government,’ said El-Naser. ‘We envisage a build-own-operate scheme involving transfer of water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, including desalination and distribution of water to Palestine, Israel and Jordan. It is at a very early stage, but the World Bank is already helping us to look at financing options.’ (MEED 31:5:02)

Jordan is also forging ahead on the $600 million Disi water conveyance project, which, like the existing Al-Samra wastewater scheme, envisages an innovative 50:50 split of public and private sector financing. El-Naser also highlighted the opportunities for private sector participation in agricultural projects in the region.