Alarming statistics testify to the looming water crisis in Iran. It is estimated that the country is exploiting 97% of its surface water supplies and 70% of its ground water supplies – while the international benchmark for surface water use is 40%. Most of the country’s water is used by the agricultural sector (92%), with the industrial sector far behind (6%) and drinking water accounting for only 2%. This means that there is an urgent need for the construction and modernization of new irrigation systems and drainage networks, as well as a strong potential for systems collecting and recycling wastewater.
Main players (gvt, semigvt, private)
The main players in the water and waste management sectors can be found in governmental and semi-governmental institutions but also in the private sector. Estimates are that around 33% of investments made in the water sector come from non-governmental companies and around 66% of investments are made by the governmental sector. For the latter, the main actors are the Ministry of Energy (in charge of construction of large hydraulic works, including dams and primary and secondary irrigation and drainage canals for the distribution of water), the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran which is under the control of the Finance Ministry, and the Ministry of Agriculture (responsible for rain-fed and irrigated crops – supervising subsurface drains, tertiary and quaternary canals as well as farm development and irrigation techniques).
Private players mostly consist of engineering and construction firms, operation & maintenance service providers and equipment providers.
Opportunities for foreign companies
Foreign companies with expertise in performing irrigation systems (especially micro-irrigation systems) and drainage networks are well-equipped to draw the attention of the Iranian authorities to start projects in Iran.
There is also a strong potential for companies specializing in systems that collect and recycle wastewater. Given that the government has drafted projects to bring water from the Persian Gulf to Iran’s central provinces, companies active in desalination and water transportation also stand a strong chance to win business opportunities in Iran.