This Arab Reform and Democracy research seminar will examine Lebanon’s failure to reform the electricity sector against the background of elaborate networks of client-patron relations, failing state institutions, and governance issues. It will explain how the electricity services have become a major element feeding Lebanon’s political and social fragmentation.
The electricity sector reform has featured as a major priority for several consecutive governments in Lebanon. Despite declared attempts at reform and legislative commitments, the state-run Electricité du Liban (EDL) still fails to ensure a reliable electricity supply, and has become a longstanding symbol of the profound political crisis affecting the Lebanese state and its institutions. The consequences of a failing sector and unreliable electricity supplies presents a number of impediments, the most important of which are those affecting Lebanon’s economic and social development and its regional integration. The failure to provide a systematic distribution of electricity also exacerbates inequalities along geographic, socio-economic and confessional lines. During the summer of 2011, the electricity issue was brought to the public attention due to a major controversy in the current Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Mikati. A last-minute deal prevented the government's fall and earmarked $1.2 billion of state financing to support some investments in infrastructure. However, practical implementation on the ground is still hindered by the patronage networks benefitting from the current status quo.
Katarina Uherova Hasbani is the Safadi Scholar of the Year at Stanford's Program on Arab Reform and Democracy, and is an energy policy expert focusing on MENA countries and their policies of energy diversification. She has worked for the European Commission, where she held several positions dealing with internal and external aspects of European Union’s energy policy, including the Cabinet of EU’s Energy Commissioner. Previously, she worked for Edelman and Cambridge Energy Research Associates, both consulting companies. She holds a master’s degree from the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris, a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Matej Bel University in Slovakia. She is currently based in Beirut where she lectures at the American University for Science and Technology.
Read more about Katarina’s appointment as a Safadi Scholar of the Year here.