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Tunisia: first private-public partnership in water, with Suez

Tunisia: first private-public partnership in water, with Suez
This picture taken on April 6, 2023 shows a view of the receding reservoir ...   -  
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FETHI BELAID/AFP or licensors


The Suez group announced on Wednesday that it had concluded the first-ever "public-private partnership in the water sector in Tunisia", by joining forces with the state-owned Onas office to clean up wastewater in a southern region serving nearly a million inhabitants.

The French-based multinational has been entrusted with "the operation of the public sanitation service for the governorates of Sfax, Gabes, Medenine and Tataouine," according to a Suez press release.

This 10-year concession contract, worth a total of 200 million euros, will be financed by the World Bank for the rehabilitation and extension of the infrastructures and by the Tunisian state for their operation and maintenance.

According to the press release, Suez and several partners have been chosen "to ensure wastewater treatment for the 960,000 inhabitants" of the regions concerned "within the framework of the economic and social development of the south of the country and with the desire to face up to the environmental challenges".

The south of Tunisia, whose government began rationing drinking water at the end of March, well before the summer, due to a drought of unprecedented severity, is characterised by a particularly arid climate and is considered one of the poorest regions.

The current infrastructure in the partnership area consists of 14 water treatment plants, 106 pumping stations and 1,900 km of sewerage network.

In addition to the renovation of existing equipment, the contract provides for work to allow, among other things, "the reuse of wastewater in agriculture" and "treatment of the nitrogen and phosphorus contained in wastewater" in order to release better quality water into the environment, according to Suez.

Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Suez, welcomed this first public-private partnership, saying that it corresponds to her wish expressed at a recent UN conference on water for "better articulation between the public and private sectors to meet water needs in the years to come".

According to Ms Soussan, this is a "structuring project that will make the country a reference in terms of sanitation management on the African continent" where the group is present with more than 500 drinking water and sanitation plants.

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