Tooraj Jamasb, Rabindra Nepal, Govinda Timilsina, Michael Toman, School of Economics Discussion Paper No. 529 August 2014, Durham University Business School, School of Economics, The University of Queensland, The World Bank, Washington D.C.

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It has been more than two decades since the widespread initiation of global energy sector reforms and restructuring. However, the empirical evidence on the microeconomic, macroeconomic and quality related performance of reforms across developing countries needs to be examined considering the sizable gap in the energy economics literature. This paper reviews the empirical and theoretical literature on the linkages between energy sector reforms; economic and technical efficiency and poverty reduction. The extent of reforms have varied across developing countries in terms of changes in market structures, the role of the state and the regulation of the sector. Reforms have improved the efficiency and productivity in the sector among many reforming countries. However, the efficiency gains have not always reached the end consumers due to the inability of sector regulators and inadequate regulatory frameworks. Reforms seem to generate poverty alleviation impacts and promote welfare of the poor only when the poor have access to energy. This implies that at a minimum, reforms should be aimed at catering the energy to the poor to produce any significant impacts on poverty reduction in developing countries. Future studies of reforms can also focus on the welfare analysis of reforms using cost-benefit analysis, which remains largely limited in the context of developing countries.