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Israel water industry sees Cebu as potential market for desalination technology


By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, Reporter

ISRAEL’s water industry considers Cebu as a potential market for desalination technology to address its inadequate water supply, Israel’s economic attache to Manila said.

“Cebu has a shortage of water… and one of the (solutions) for that can be desalinated water… Israel has a lot of experience here. We have five desalination plants… we think that this experience can be very relevant to a place like Cebu,” Economic Attaché and Head of the Manila embassy’s Economic Mission Tomer Heyvi told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the Israeli Water Technologies Roadshow.

Global water solutions provider Global Environmental Solutions and Aqwise Vice President for Business Development and Sales Harel Rauch said at the same event that the Philippines is viewed as a “very attractive market.”

He said it was “one of the markets where we want to develop operations… We find that it’s really suitable for (Israeli) technologies, and will be one of the countries that will be part of our strategy for the next few years.”

“We’ll start with partnerships with local companies, and after that, based on the operations, we’ll see if we want to open an office or not, but we truly believe it’s a country we should focus on,” he added.

Mr. Heyvi said Israel’s Foreign Trade Administration is planning to bring in a Philippine delegation in July to demonstrate its various water management technologies, with a view towards possibly forming partnerships with Philippine businesses.

“We plan to bring a big delegation from the Philippines to Israel to see with their own eyes desalination plants, treatment plants, and how water is managed in Israel,”

He described the plan to tour the delegation as a major project for next year.

“In Israel, we look at the Philippines as a potential market and a potential partner for collaboration in water,” he added. “I think that this delegation will command the attention of their Israeli counterparts.”

“Every municipality has its own operations in case of a water shortage,” he said, noting that one of the highlights of the tour could be a visit to “the second largest desalination plant in the world.”

He also touted “the efficiency of water management at the municipal level.”

Being invited to participate are Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co.

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure that you are well-equipped to achieve water efficiency,” Mr. Heyvi said, noting that Israel can offer cost-efficient solutions for detecting water leaks, among others.

Last week Israel brought to the Manila its first water delegation since the beginning of the pandemic. Seven leading Israeli water technology companies met with their Philippine counterparts during their week-long stay.

“We know that some (Philippine water companies) are already using Israeli technologies like control valves, pressure valves, and water meters,” he said.

Collaboration is “already happening, but looking at the future, we brought this delegation from Israel because we think that there are certain areas that we can definitely tap,” he added. “One of them is desalination.”

Mr. Rauch said the Philippines will have to develop its wastewater treatment capabilities.

“You’re not treating all of the wastewater,” he said. “You need to increase your wastewater treatment that enable you to have, let’s say, less expensive desalination. Usually wastewater treatment requires energy, but today with new technology, new processes, you can shift (to an energy-positive stance).”

“I think this is something that may also be relevant here because of increasing energy costs and all of that,” he added. “That may be something we need to see implemented in the Philippines.”

Desalinated sea water is the second-largest source of potable water in Israel, whose five plants source water from the Mediterranean sea, with the capacity to supplying 660 million cubic meters of fresh water per year, Mr. Heyvi said.

Israel also claims global leadership in water reclamation, he added, with 87% of its water treated and reused. Reused water is the main water source for Israeli agriculture, which accounts for 55% of water consumption.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

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