The regulatory governance of the telecommunication and electricity industries in small, island nations

Posted on June 20, 2013  /  0 Comments

That is the title of a 2013 Utilities Policy article by Malcolm Abbott and Xiaoying Ma. I was quite intrigued because it addresses the central problem sought to be addressed by the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center (PiRRC), that LIRNEasia has been assisting with over the past two years.

As is unfortunately the case with too many peer-reviewed journal articles these days, there are few new findings/insights. But the quotes below pertain directly to the problem being tackled by the region’s regulators and the World Bank and the ADB (though there is no mention of the PiRRC, which has been in existence since 2011):

A number of strategies have been made to ensure staffing and expertise levels. One approach is to employ specialist consultants outside of the country. In the case of Guam, for instance, the bulk of agency expenditure is on specialist consultants rather than on full time staff . . . . In some cases the agencies are relatively large in size (i.e. the Malta Communications Authority in 2011 had 72 staff members). Where agencies depend on permanent fulltime staff generally attempts are made to enhance expertise by training.

Training can be enhanced by pooled resources and training across nations or by making use of development assistance. . . . . Multi-national regulatory collaboration is more common, through agencies such as the Organization of Caribbean Utility Regulators. Developmental assistance is also common. The South Pacific nation agencies (i.e. Samoa) are generally assisted by Australian and New Zealand agencies and the Caribbean ones by American or British agencies. Close relations of this sort can help to enhance the level of expertise of small island agencies. Overall it is possible that a combination of the use of private consultants and international relations can help to overcome the problems of resourcing.

The article contains a tabular summary of the status of small island state regulatory agencies. Perhaps, PiRRC can include a regularly updated section on these lines?

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