Project Case Study
Assessing the viability of multi-sector regulation in Malawi
Assessing the appropriateness of merging sector regulation into a single agency
Some of the utility and infrastructure services in Malawi, namely telecommunications services, postal services, electricity and water supply, plus the air transport sector, have been characterised by their lack of reliability. They provided sporadic services that were susceptible to a variety of problems.
For example, in the case of the water sector, seasonal fluctuations meant there was not enough water if the Lilongwe River was low following poor rainfall, and electricity shortages occurred due to obsolete and outdated equipment in the electricity utility.
The regulation frameworks for each of these industries were often merged with their operational capacities, and there were often unofficial agency monopolies that forced prices up, as happened with the mobile phone network.
In 2001, the World Bank contracted us to examine the options for combining much of Malawi’s infrastructure under a multi-sector regulator, which would regularise and improve regulatory standards across the country, provide an opportunity to establish appropriate sector competition and help standardise provision of infrastructure services.
Our team conducted an exhaustive review of the options for the sector, analysing the competition and operational state of utility and infrastructure services, as well as the nature and effectiveness of existing regulatory bodies. We also assessed comparable regulatory environments in other international locations, in order to consider the appropriateness of merging the various regulation functions into a single agency.