Covid-19 pushes water agenda in Middle East

25 February 2021
With demand set to rise by about 62 per cent by 2025, the region is prioritising water projects

While the Covid-19 pandemic has damaged prospects across many of the region’s traditional business sectors, it has boosted the outlook for water and wastewater investment in the Middle East and North Africa.

In a region characterised by a lack of rivers, lakes and rainfall, water security has long been a priority, but the pandemic has refocused Middle East states on the vital importance of water security.

Demand growth

GCC water demand is set to rise by about 62 per cent by 2025. Demand growth on this scale necessitates significant capital investment in new capacity. Such investment is happening. About $80bn-worth of water and wastewater projects are planned or under way in the GCC.

Governments are backing large-scale strategic investment programmes to increase water production and storage capacity, to expand wastewater and sewage treatment capacity, and to modernise dilapidated water transmission and distribution networks. 

The PPP model is growing in importance in sewage treatment, transmission and storage

At the same time as they are investing in increased capacity, they are also ramping up efforts to conserve their water resources and mange consumption levels. As well as cutting subsidies, governments are seeking out and introducing new technologies, from large-scale reverse osmosis (RO) desalination to smart grids and metering.

Managing consumption, increasing asset efficiency, recycling wastewater, using treated sewage effluent and reducing leakage are now every bit as important as building new desalination and sewage treatment plants. 

In contrast to a decade or two ago when independent water and power projects were the norm, decoupling water and power production has become a key theme, and will grow in importance. There are also opportunities to upgrade existing facilities, such as retrofitting desalination plants using multi-stage flash with membrane RO technologies

Governments are also accelerating efforts to increase private sector participation in the water and wastewater sectors through public-private partnerships and privatisation. The need to preserve capital in a low-oil-price environment will see privately developed schemes become the standard model for procuring future capacity.

This article is extracted from MEED’s latest premium intelligence report, Middle East Water 2021.

Middle East Water 2021 is an extremely high-value asset for anyone doing business in the Middle East water and wastewater sectors.

The report has been updated to include the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the water and wastewater industry in the Middle East.

The 525-page report includes more than 327 charts, tables, graphs and maps, divided into 15 chapters.

Purchase the report here


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