Waiting for privatisation

Ford, Neil
January 2005
Middle East;Jan2005, Issue 352, p38
This article reports that Saudi Arabia's electricity generation and distribution programmes offer tremendous scope for investment but only after the promised privatisation measures have been put in place. When Saudi Arabia's Supreme Economic Council ordered the formation of the Electricity Regulatory Authority at the end of November 2001, it seemed as if competition in the Saudi electricity sector could not be far behind. Apart from the ease of using domestic reserves, the durability of high oil prices and the government's desire to maximise oil exports should rule out new oil fired plants, even though new technology makes them a cleaner option. New technology has cut production costs for both electricity and drinking water and so IWPPs offer a great deal of additional benefit in such a water-poor country as Saudi Arabia. The type of competition that could drive down non-subsidised production costs is only likely to be generated when private sector operators are given a freer hand.


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