The Economic Research Forum (ERF) held a seminar on Efficiency and Equity of Utilities in the ERF Region under the 10th Round of the Regional Research Competition supported by the Global Development Network (GDN) on October 11th, 2012, in Cairo, Egypt.
In a governmental monopoly of utilities, competition is limited and the government plays the dual role of both operator and regulator of the sector. Due to fiscal pressure and modest outcomes, some countries have begun to rely on the private sector for the management of some of these utilities. Consequently, governmental regulatory bodies were created to protect and regulate the interests of both consumers and the producers. The problem is that these experiences have not been evaluated systematically to explore whether these reforms have been welfare improving and whether the regulatory regimes have been effective.
Accordingly, ERF launched a call for proposals under the theme of Efficiency and Equity of Utilities in the ERF Region. In response to the call for papers, ERF received 16 proposals, 4 of which have been peer reviewed and selected.
The selected papers covered various sectors such as telecom, electricity, water and civil aviation in certain countries like Egypt, Palestine and others from the region. In the paper titled An Analysis of the Mobile Telephone Sector in MENA: Potential for Deregulation and Privatization” by Sam Hakim and Simon Neaime, the researchers evaluated the growth and trend in the mobile telephone sector in several MENA countries between 1995 and 2007, where the penetration of mobile telecommunication has significantly increased. “The recent performance of the telecom sector and mobile services in particular, has not received the necessary attention it deserves, nor has the pace of market transition from monopoly to competition been investigated,” said Hakim. “This paper is considered a significant step in explaining the necessary requirements to develop the regulatory framework that should parallel the growth in mobile services,” added Neaime.