Political Economy of Reform and Regulation in the Electricity Sector of Sub-Saharan Africa

Mahmud I. Imam, Tooraj Jamasb, Manuel Llorca

Research output: Working paperResearch

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As part of electricity sector reforms, Sub-Saharan African countries have established independent regulatory agencies to signal legal and political commitment to end selfregulation and provision of service by the state. The reforms aimed to encourage private investments, improve efficiency, and extend the service to the millions who lacked the service. However, after nearly two and half decades of reforms, these expectations have not been met and the electricity sectors of these countries remain undeveloped. There are anecdotes that these outcomes are due to poor design, non-credible, unpredictable regulations, and political interference. This paper studies the performance of the reforms in the context of government political ideology. We use a dynamic panel estimator and data from 45 Sub-Saharan African countries to investigate ideological differences in the effect of independent sector regulation on access to electricity and installed capacity. We find negative impact from independent regulation on installed capacity in countries with leftwing governments while we find a positive effect in countries with right-wing governments. Moreover, we find negative impact on electricity access in countries with left-wing governments. These results have interesting policy implications for attracting private sector participation to increase generation capacity and access rates especially in countries with left-wing governments.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherDepartment of Economics. Copenhagen Business School
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesWorking Paper / Department of Economics. Copenhagen Business School
SeriesCSEI Working Paper


  • Independent regulation
  • Electricity sector reform
  • Government ideology
  • Dynamic GMM
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

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