THE ISSAM FARES INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
The AUB Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) hosted a talk by Neil McCulloch, Director of The Policy Practice, titled “The Political Economy of Electricity Reform in Fragile Contexts” on Thursday, September 23, 2021, at 4:00 pm (Beirut time).
Lebanon’s electricity system is in a state of near collapse. But it is not alone, electricity provision in Nigeria is lamentable, and in Yemen it is disastrous. In many fragile countries and contexts around the world, electricity provision is extremely poor. While poverty, lack of finance, and technical failures contribute to the crisis – the reason for weak provision is mostly political. However, this talk argued that despite the challenges, there is hope for saving the electricity sector in all these countries. Reasonable electricity provision has been achieved, even in very difficult circumstances, by following a set of political economy principles. The resulting arrangements look very different from the Development Banks’ ‘standard model’ of reform. But they might provide a feasible way of moving beyond the current impasse and getting the lights back on.
In this talk, Dr. Neil McCulloch tackled his previous and ongoing research on electricity reform in fragile contexts, with a focus on Nigeria, Lebanon, and Yemen, and investigated how these workable solutions were compatible with the local political economy to establish a functioning mechanism for electricity provision. In addition, it shed light on the need to pay much less attention to technical solutions and economic analysis in situations with weak electricity governance, and focus much more on the nature of the local political settlement and which kinds of changes are politically feasible.
About Neil McCulloch
Dr. Neil McCulloch is a Director at The Policy Practice. His main focus is on the political economy of reform in the energy sector, including work on corruption and reform in the power sector, as well as on electricity and fuel subsidy reform in numerous countries, such as Lebanon, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Guinea, Mali, and Togo. He holds a MPhil in Economics from Oxford University and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from Keele University, as well as a BSc and MSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Edinburgh University.