DRAINING THE SWAMP

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Rami Moussilli, CEO of AlKhorayef Water and Power Technologies (AWPT), on privatization, sustainability, and steering the country toward its Vision 2030 goals.

Rami Moussilli
BIOGRAPHY
Rami Moussilli was appointed CEO in 2014 of Alkhorayef Water and Power Technologies and has been responsible for the exponential growth of the company and its implementation of strategic international partnerships. After graduating with a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he gained substantial executive experience in leading international consortiums and executing high-profile mega projects in the US, including airport expansions, infrastructure upgrades and rehabilitation programs, and privatized transportation and utility concession projects. He first came to Saudi Arabia in 2011 to lead major combined cycle power plant projects and was subsequently appointed CEO of AlKhorayef Water and Power Technologies, where he has broadened the scope of the company and diversified its portfolio of high-profile projects

How have you advanced with the implementation of new initiatives and technologies in the Saudi water and wastewater market in recent years?

AWPT has grown to become a vital player in this market in the past three decades. In recent years, we managed to assert ourselves as the leading operation and maintenance (O&M) and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor, and our lead in the market comes from a sustainable operational philosophy with a strong code of ethics, performance-driven management, and deep subject matter expertise. Our clients keep us accountable for the high quality, new technologies, and operational excellence that we deliver, which has catapulted us to becoming the go-to contractor in this field. We are currently the leading water and wastewater operator for the governmental and semi-governmental sector, including the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, and the National Water Company. AWPT operates over 40% of Saudi water and wastewater infrastructure in 40 towns and cities, serving the critical needs of a large portion of the population. In addition to the O&M arm, we have proven our integrated EPC capabilities by the successful and timely completion of numerous challenging projects throughout the Kingdom. With the current privatization efforts in this sector, we are pursuing public-private partnerships, concessions, BOT, BOO, and other contract schemes to implement our long-term growth strategy. We actively go after the privatization of green and brownfield independent sewage treatment plants (ISTP), desalination plants, utilities concessions and distribution systems.

What are the possibilities for more renewables, and how can AWPT contribute to the Kingdom's sustainability agenda?

Building on our expertise in the water and wastewater sector, we are leveraging our position as part of a diversified manufacturing and commercial group of companies to further enter the field of renewable energy in the Kingdom. Within our current operations, we implement renewable solutions in the design as well as execution stages. We always adopt a sustainable and environmentally-friendly approach to everything we do. As for the market of renewable energy itself, we mostly strive for international partnerships where we can deliver on EPC and O&M services. We consider the best opportunities to be in solar and wind initiatives, and it is important that Vision 2030 has outlined a comprehensive transformation agenda that calls for participation from all parties involved.

How do you achieve local capacity building and innovation within the company?

We believe in the interdependency and integration between knowledge transfer stemming from partnering with international firms, and our deep knowledge of the local market has made a substantial contribution to local capacity building. Given the demanding nature of privatization projects, integrated partnerships between local and international firms are the cornerstones of successful projects. All sustainable partnerships should have these complementary components. In this sense, we have implemented strategic partnerships with internationally recognized industry leaders in the water and power sector. We always seek compatible partners where we can combine our local know-how with their international expertise, apply the latest cutting-edge technologies, increase efficiencies, and formulate a competitive financial structure. In terms of local talent development, we strive to recruit more young Saudi talent and invest in providing long-term careers for them. Saudization is integral to our responsibility toward the country and community, especially when it comes to building our engineering capacity and know-how. It is key to the success of the country in the future, and we are doing our best to play our role.

What will come of the set privatization agenda in the water sector and ambitions to build more power capacity?

Following the rapid growth in population, industrial expansion, and sprawling development, there is an ever-increasing demand to improve efficiency and capacity upgrade of the current water and power infrastructure. In line with NTP 2020's targets, there have been complete restructurings of the governmental infrastructure and new mandates to reducing inefficiencies across the board.