While the sanitation sector has always been managed by ONAS, a public company, the Tunisian government wants to modernize the sector through the development of public-private partnerships. ONAS currently builds, operates and maintains 115 wastewater treatment plants, with a total treatment capacity of 9.0 million inhabitants-equivalents.
Ultimately, the government plans to concede the management of more than 50% of sanitation infrastructure. The objective is to obtain better cost-performance efficiency of the service and to limit the increase of operating costs related to the achievement of environmental performance targets required by the régulations.
In a first phase, a pilot project covering 2 lots has been defined. These 2 lots represent 17% of the network and 24% of the wastewater volumes treated by ONAS :
a 1st lot in the north of Greater Tunis, including 1,230 km of networks and 1 wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of 40,000 m³ / d
a second lot in the governorates of Gabes, Medenine, Sfax and Tataouine and comprising 1,780 km of networks and 14 treatment plants with a capacity of 134,000 m³ / d.
Each contract will include the completion of the initial work of refurbishment of infrastructures and major maintenance-renewal, on the one hand, and the operation and maintenance of the works over a period of 10 years, on the other hand. However the contractor will not be in charge of financing the works.
ICEA provides its expertise on all institutional and financial questions for the Artelia-Bird & Bird consortium, which has been selected by the government, together with IFC, to support ONAS in the structuring and implementation of these two contracts. The pilot project is currently in the recruitment phase of the operators. A pre-qualification of interested candidates was launched in September 2017. The bidding documents will be sent to the pre-qualified candidates in the summer of 2018 for a start of the contracts expected before the end of 2019.