3ie Systematic Review 31

Effects and mechanisms of market-based reforms on access to electricity in developing countries: a systematic review

3ie Systematic review 31, 2016

This systematic review by Bensch and colleagues examines the impacts of market-based reforms on access to electricity in developing countries, compiling evidence from both quantitative and qualitative rigorous impact evaluations. Findings suggest that electricity sector reforms are no panacea on their own. Since they are complex interventions that have techno-economic effects and affects political economy matters, they require strong collaboration between these fields of expertise. The review exposes considerable knowledge gaps – in terms of absolute and relative reform costs as well as reform effectiveness. The paucity of quantitative evidence can be traced to a combination of two factors: the lack of sufficiently detailed and internationally comparable data, and the methodological challenge to develop a convincing rigorous framework to empirically isolate reform effects from confounding factors. To counter these problems, regulators and ministries around the world are to be motivated to provide the data necessary for effectiveness and cost-effectiveness studies. More effort is also needed to cover indicators on potentially key technical, economic, and political mechanisms. 

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