Future of Utilities

Improving the electricity sector with policy, regulations, and business models

During the last three decades, while most of the developed nations and many others have adopted a relatively uniform approach to the introduction of privatization and liberalization in their energy sectors, Africa—sub-Saharan Africa in particular—faces a major challenge of lack of universal energy access. On top of the need to urgently improve this situation, which is impeding economic and human development in the region, new challenges and opportunities—digitalization, decarbonization, and decentralization being the most prominent—create additional uncertainty about the future of the sector. The provision and consumption of electricity services will likely change considerably, with new actors, technologies, and business models. The incumbent utilities will function in a very different environment than the one in the past and will have to adapt to the new circumstances.

The objective of this project is to identify the major bottlenecks and causes that currently impede progress, and to propose policy and regulatory measures, and possible business models, that have the best chance to enable improvement in the mid- and long-term. The project seeks to account for a broad diversity of situations—ranging from political, geographical, demographical, or social to the endowment of resources, development of infrastructures, or capacity building.