The Effects of Power Sector Reform on Energy Services for the Poor

This report examines the connections, if any, between efforts to enhance development through electrification of the world's poorest households with the parallel efforts to introduce market forces in the power sector. Advocates for equitable economic development have rightly signaled many concerns about the process of electricity reform. Their fears range from the higher prices that often accompany reform to the concern that private firms motivated for profits will not have an incentive to provide public services. Some of these fears have been articulated by implying the existence of a "golden era" when state owned firms dominated the power sector and provided energy services equitably across societies; in fact, that golden era never existed in most countries. Public utilities traditionally have been highly politicized; in many countries they have concentrated their services on urban elites and often neglected the poorest populations.