Over the last fifteen years the world's largest developing countries have initiated market reforms in their electric power sectors. This book evaluates the experiences in five of those countries – Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa. These five are important in their own right, as they have the largest power systems in their regions and their consumption of electricity is among the most rapidly rising in the world. They are the locus of massive financial investment – from domestic and foreign sources, both public and private – and the effects of these power systems are increasingly felt in world fuel markets. In addition to their intrinsic importance, these countries reveal important variations in reform efforts. Their power systems have been organized in distinct ways, have different primary fuels and technologies, and have been reformed under quite different strategies.
In the pages that follow, we explain the origins of these reform efforts and proffer a theory as to why – despite diverse backgrounds – reform efforts in all five countries have stalled in similar ways. We also suggest that our theory may have more general application to electricity reform beyond these five countries and also to reforms of other network industries.
In the broadest sense, this book advances four arguments. First, we suggest that these five countries initiated reform efforts at approximately the same time not simply because “markets” were a fad or that market-oriented elites controlled key governments and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.
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