Senegal scraps water desalination deal with Saudi firm ACWA Power

DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegal will cancel a 32-year water infrastructure deal that was signed by former president Macky Sall with Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power company due to its high cost, the minister of water and sanitation said.

Valued at $800 million, the contract for the construction and operation of a desalination plant in the capital Dakar was signed in March in the final days of Sall’s presidency.

Touted as the largest project of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, the plant’s production capacity of 400,000 cubic meters per day was intended to alleviate shortages in a country where water withdrawals are forecast to rise by up to 60% by 2035, according to the World Bank.

But Minister Cheikh Tidiane Dieye said on Thursday the cost in the long term made it “a short-termist and expensive solution”.

“The price of water will become more expensive in the long run because of the technology used to produce it,” he said, speaking on a private TV network. “I said that it (the project) is not going to happen.”

He criticised Sall for signing the deal so close to his departure from office.

“A president who is due to finish his term of office in a few days’ time and who pledges his signature for a period of 30 years is unacceptable to any mind.”

ACWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside business hours.

(Reporting by Diadie Ba; writing by Anait Miridzhanian; editing by Barbara Lewis)


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