SOAS-ACE Research in Lebanon
The Policy Practice is leading a one year research project on anti-corruption innovations in the electricity sector in Lebanon as part of the SOAS Anti-Corruption Evidence research programme funded by FCDO.
Lebanon has one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional electricity systems in the world; its utility – Electricite du Liban (EDL)– is one of the worst performing and most loss-making utilities in the region. Extensive blackouts force consumers to subscribe to private generators, often owned by local ‘mafia’, hugely increasing costs for consumers. The situation has deteriorated even further recently due to the political and economic crisis facing the country, as well as the catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port (see our blog on the link between the explosion, corruption and electricity sector reforms).
However, in the town of Zahle, the local utility – EDZ – has managed to push out private generator owners and establish a high quality, reliable 24/7 electricity service. Working with researchers from the American University of Beirut, TPP Director Dr. Neil McCulloch is exploring the political economy that enabled this reform to happen. Instead of a shining example of anti-corruption reform, we find a more complex and murky story of how key actors have navigated an extremely challenging political terrain to achieve better service delivery. The project draws out lessons about what kinds of reform are political feasible in the Lebanese context and which might be replicable elsewhere.
A recent podcast - Risk Reduction as Anti-Corruption To Power Up The Electricity Sector, co-written by Neil McCulloch and Muzna Al-Masri can be listened to here.