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Desal in Senegal

With Financing from Japan Cooperation Agency JICA, Senegal Will Build a 100,000 Cubic Metres Per Day Desalination Plant by 2021

Senegal water company Senegalaise des Eaux (SDE) will look to desalination to keep supplies flowing in the rapidly growing capital city of Dakar and try to avoid a repeat of last year's shortages, the firm's chief executive said.

A bustling hub for investors and aid organisations in francophone West Africa, Dakar is built on a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean and is hemmed in by the arid Sahel belt, with no large supplies of water for more than 200 kilometres.

Its structural water problems came to a head in September 2013, when 40 percent of the city went without water for two weeks after a pipe burst.

"Senegal needs to diversify its water sources to secure supply and anticipate growing demand due to rapid urbanisation," Mamadou Dia, chief executive of private equity-owned SDE, said in an interview.

Dia said that with financing from Japan cooperation agency JICA, Senegal will build a 100,000 cubic metres per day desalination plant by 2021 -- more than five times the current shortfall. SDE will also bid in a tender for a second 50,000 m3/day plant with private financing.

Desalination is an energy-intensive process and Senegal is already short of power, but the plant will have its own generator, which will sell part of its electricity to the grid.

The water failure embarrassed President Macky Sall who pledged to tackle water and power shortages after his 2012 election and end the practice of women roaming the streets with buckets on their heads to collect water from mains pipes.

It also spurred criticism of the role of private investment firms in utilities like SDE which provides water to around half of Senegal's 13 million people, mainly in urban areas. France's Multinationals Observatory has blamed the outage on Eranove's "purely financial" water management.

SDE is 57 percent owned by French utility group Eranove, which supplies drinking water in Senegal and Ivory Coast, power in West Africa and had 2013 turnover of 411 million euros ($520 million).

Eranove itself is majority-owned by the Africa-focused Emerging Capital Partners private equity fund, which has $2 billion under management. Construction firm Bouygues, which won a water concession in the former French colony in 1996, retains a 19 percent stake in Eranove.

Source: Reuters

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