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February 25, 2008

Africa’s largest desalination plant inaugurated

Gerald Ondrey

A persistent shortage of potable water in the City of Algiers, Algeria was eased today as the $250-million Hamma Seawater Desalination Plant (SWDP) was officially opened by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Jeff Garwood president and CEO, GE Water & Process Technologies (Trevose, Pa.;, a unit of General Electric Company. Completed on time and on budget in 24 months, the Hamma SWDP uses GE’s advanced ecomagination-certified reverse-osmosis membranes to purify up to 200,000 m3/d of seawater — providing as many as two million residents of Algiers with a reliable and drought-proof supply of fresh water.

For many years adequate water supplies in Algiers were nearly unattainable, as residential and industrial demand has significantly outstripped supply. More than 2.5 million rural dwellers have resettled in the City of Algiers over the past half-century, inflating the population and severely straining the city’s water supplies and infrastructure. As a result, residents faced serious water shortages, and often received water for only a few hours each day or sometimes only once every three days.

Hamma SWDP is also North Africa’s first large-scale reverse osmosis desalination plant to be funded by a joint venture that combines public and private equity investment. The special project company, Hamma Water Desalination SpA combines 70% funding from General Electric and 30% from the state-owned Algerian Energy Company. The Overseas Private Investment Company, which helps U.S businesses invest in new and emerging overseas markets, financed U.S. $200 million towards the project. GE was also awarded a 25-year contract to operate and maintain the plant.


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