Public utilities in most African countries have failed to deliver adequate, reliable, and competitively priced electricity to support economic growth and improve the welfare of their populations. Despite more than two decades of power sector reforms, outcomes have been varied and often disappointing. A comparative case study analysis of electric utilities in three East African countries (Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda) explores the drivers of utility performance.
Findings show that Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited performed the worst. Kenya Power performed better, while Umeme is the most financially sustainable of the three utilities. However, this ranking among the three utilities is inconsistent across all performance measures. PSP is widespread and brings in much-needed investments in generation and distribution. Countries that restructured their power systems have reduced conflicts of interest, enabled deeper management focus, improved transparency and accountability, and built institutional capacity that translates into improved utility performance. One of our major conclusions is that despite improved governance in market-oriented power markets, consistent regulatory decision-making for cost reflective tariffs and adequate indexation is still necessary to guarantee financial viability and sustainability.