PwC helps Saudi government with water privatisation initiative

30 November 2020 3 min. read

PwC has helped the Saudi government create a privatised and digitalised water transmission entity – WTTCO – in a move that is aligned with goals in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

The Water Transmission and Technologies Company (WTTCO) is conceptualised to be among the largest water transmission companies in the world, currently spanning 8,000 kms in pipeline infrastructure. Plans are to expand this network to reach 11,000 kms and a transmission capacity of 8 million cubic metres of water.

And its not just the size that’s impressive; WTTCO is envisioned as a company of the future. Back end operations are fully digitalised with zero paper usage, cutting edge collaboration technology, and 360-degree integrated business application. Pipeline infrastructure, meanwhile, will be fitted with digital transmitters that not only enable remote monitoring of operations but also generate pools of data in real time.

“WTTCO has adopted the latest digital trends and will be paperless from its inauguration enabling a self-sustaining modern organisation that drives innovation and collaboration to operate effectively,” explained Ahman Abu Hantash, a partner in PwC Middle East’s Technology practice.

PwC helps Saudi government with water privatisation initiative

To top it all off, the technology being used is “asset-light,” leveraging the latest in “scalable and secure cloud infrastructure” according to PwC. In a nutshell, WTTCO embodies all the fundamental improvements that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 hopes to achieve: efficiency, sustainability, self-reliance, digitalisation, infrastructure advancement, flexibility and – critically – reducing reliance on the oil & gas economy.

Privatisation story

No doubt, shifting the focus from oil & gas would require other sectors to take centre stage, and water production is certainly a strong contender. In fact, Saudi Arabia is the largest desalination market in the world, generating around 4 million cubic metres of desalinated water everyday. According to PwC, this translates into more than 15% of the global desalination capacity.

With its crucial position in Saudi economy and Vision 2030, the government decided to reorganise the water production segement. Until recently, the entire desalination line from production to transmission was managed by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) – a government body established in 1974. In line with future objectives, The Saudi Ministry for Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) announced the National Water Strategy 2030, which among other stipulations called for separating water production assets from water transmission assets.

PwC – in all its latest tech expertise – was brought on board to privatise the transmission infrastructure, giving rise to WTTCO. Three phases made up the privatisation process. Phase one involved setting up a digital operation strategy, a corporate governance framework and other policies and procedures. Phase two was the operational setup, with core technology implementation and support with establishing the human resources, finance, supply chain, IT and security departments.

Phase three was the “hand- over” which involved “a complete inspection of the infrastructure that would allow the transformation from government aligned processes to a commercially-run organisation that balances efficient processes with the right controls for their establishment life cycle,” according to Ismail Maraqa, a partner in PwC’s Consulting division.

“We are proud to be part of this journey, we have worked hand in hand with the transition team with careful considerations to avoid the typical pitfalls of such an exercise and ensure that WTTCO is established based on leading practices,” he added. The entire process culminated in an official WTTCO launch ceremony held by MEWA earlier this month, which was attended by the Council of Ministers.