The first important step in the implementation of the ambitious “Water City” project – signing the agreement with consulting company GEI – has taken place and the project now kicks into high gear. Interview with Israel’s Commercial Attaché in Beijing Ophir Gore.
The Water City about to rise in Shouguang, China, a unique effort by the Israeli and Chinese governments, is a breakthrough cooperation in the water arena. Ophir Gore, Israel’s Commercial Attaché in Beijing, explained the background for the project in his opening statements at the Israel-China Innovation Panel at WATEC 2015:
“In May 2013, during the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to China, both Premiers met in Beijing. In this meeting, the Israeli prime minister raised an offer – taking one Chinese city and making it a show case to other cities in China and the world regarding the impact that Israeli water technologies can have on water consumption, quality and usage. The Chinese Premier, Mr. Li Keqiang, embraced this idea and this is how the idea of ‘Israeli Water City in China’ was born.”
The first important step in bringing this vision to fruition has now taken place, the signing of the agreement with GEI. GEI is the consulting company chosen to map the entire project. Israel NewTech is footing the bill for the mapping and planning process, estimated at $200,000.
Why was GEI selected? “A panel of experts examined the offers we received and found GEI to be the most suitable,” explains Ophir Gore. “The company has vast experience in the water arena, hundreds of employees, and a cooperation with an Israeli consulting group, TEFEN, which will help the process to run more smoothly and effectively.”
The Chinese government is deeply committed to the project, and they have already set up a dedicated team in the Shouguang municipality to manage it. Gore forecasts that the mapping and planning process will be ready quite quickly, in just 3-4 months, and that by mid-2016 Israeli companies will begin establishing their pilots in the field.
The potential for Israeli companies to do business in China through participation in the Water City is immense, and covers a number of fields, including water management, purification, desalination, irrigation and more. “Even just the pilot projects in Shouguang means business worth many millions of dollars to Israeli companies,” explains Gore. “And of course the idea is that municipalities all over China will come and see the technologies at work in Shouguang and adopt them in their territories, and the potential for business if of course immense, I would estimate in the hundreds of millions of dollars or more.”
The signing of the agreement with GEI was the step everyone was waiting for, according to Gore.