Private provision has proven itself a useful tool in rolling out sustainable access to infrastructure.  At the same time, both the extent and quality of basic infrastructure services, like electricity and water, vary significantly across countries with private provision. Alongside shortages of finance and technical capacity, some of the bottlenecks to improved provision are related to the business environment at both the sector and macroeconomic level.  Barriers at the level of the sector include poorly designed regulation, limited capacity to implement that regulation and unfair or illegal business practices on the part of competitors.    

The Business Environment for Private Utility Provision project is designed to give the development community a better understanding of the challenges presented by the business environment at the sector level for private providers of utility services. The project is financed by the World Bank and carried out in cooperation with an independent agency, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI). Information will be collected primarily from private firms in water, telecoms, and electricity in a survey covering around twenty developing countries. The project will also seek perspectives from regulatory institutions and concerned ministries. A pilot study is being carried out in 2007, and includes interviews of representatives of firms and public institutions in two countries. A more comprehensive cross-country business survey is scheduled for 2008.