From dysfunctional to functional corruption: The politics of reform in Lebanon’s electricity sector


In Lebanon, the electricity sector’s dysfunction and inefficiency mask deeper political economy challenges, including rampant rent-seeking, captured institutions and a fractured state. Over decades, corruption and mismanagement in Lebanon’s electricity sector has contributed to the draining of public finances and has deprived the Lebanese people of their right to reliable and affordable electricity. 
Amidst the poor general state of the sector, one area of Lebanon has managed to operate a private utility that provides a reliable and high-quality electricity service – Électricité de Zahlé (EDZ). Our study explores how it has been possible to establish EDZ’s functional, but problematic, service provision within the complex sectarian political context of Lebanon. We draw existing development and political economy literature to understand the rents and types of corruption in the sector and how the changes implemented by EDZ have been consistent with the nature of Lebanon’s political settlement.