The Business Year

Mahmoud Y. Fallatah

SAUDI ARABIA - Energy & Mining

It’s In The Water

CEO, Nesma Water & Energy

Bio

Before becoming the CEO of Nesma Water and Energy, Mahmoud Yahya Fallatah was seconded from The Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) to the Ministry of Water and Electricity (MOWE) as a director for the water privatization project in MOWE, which lead to the formation of the National Water Company (NWC) in which he held the role of Executive Projects Director. Fallatah’s Previous stops include the Saudi Yanbu Petrochemical Company (Yenpet), a subsidiary of SABIC. Fallatah graduated from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals with a degree in Applied Chemical Engineering.

TBY talks to Mahmoud Y. Fallatah, CEO of Nesma Water & Energy, on how private players can meet public demand for water, the mechanics of running a large utilities company, and the company's long-term goals in the Kingdom.

How do you see the role of the private sector developing as a solution for the Kingdom’s growing water demand?

In 2006-07, the Kingdom had a large strategic plan concerning the water sector. From then, the water and waste water privatization started with the inception of the National Water Company (NWC) which was established in 2008. This strategic plan was presented to acquire the major cities within the Kingdom—Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, and Ta’if—in its first phase. This represented the initial listing for the entire privatization of the sector with more cities to come in the future. It indeed played a major role in reshaping the water sector in the country with more focus on customer care and enhancement in supply demand management. The objective of this strategic transformation is to encourage private national and international players in the sector to enhance the water infrastructure and operation in the Kingdom. This will allow private sector investment to participate in this high potential market in all green and non-green field projects.

What types of projects are you focusing on now for Nesma Water & Energy?

Nesma is involved in many types of projects. One of our focused areas is operations and maintenance. Currently, Nesma is operating many plants for the National Water Company and for the Ministry of Water and Electricity as well as other private and semi-government sectors.

The second sector is the plants construction, in which Nesma has participated in the national strategic rush project for the Riyadh Water Enhancement Program (RWEP), where Nesma along with other contractors have managed to construct 43 different water plants in 27 locations within Riyadh City in only six months, for the NWC. The third sector is the infrastructure projects, which includes the water and power utilities infrastructure; for example, the RWEP with the different sites was a strategic project for the nation. It was a rush project to deliver around 250,000 cubic meters per day. Nesma participated heavily in this project despite the many challenges faced during the construction phase due to the nature and complexity of the project, which included digging wells down to 2,500m. Nesma and the whole nation are very proud of this project as it was awarded the best global water project during the national water summit in Paris in early 2014. Part of our infrastructure works is two large projects in the north of Jeddah, in which Nesma is responsible for all the infrastructure, including water pipelines, water connection, irrigation, potable water, waste water networks, storm drainage, electrical cables, and substations, as well as complete road construction and traffic signs. Both projects are significant for the development of the industrial and residential areas of north Jeddah.

What is your long-term vision for Nesma Water & Energy?

Nesma is expanding rapidly, especially with a fast changing market such as the Saudi construction sector. The minute we get a project, we will expand, not for the project but for the entire company. The number of people and assets we have has grown dramatically over the past two years. The more we have, the more we are ready for the next expansion. Our next goal is to get into public-private partnerships (PPP), BOO, and BOOT concept projects with the government and/or the private sector. We feel that we have the desire and the financial capability to do this. I hope the chance will come soon so that we can materialize our strategic objectives over the next few years.

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