Post-Privatisation Problems in the Nigerian Electricity Sector
: The roles of sector-specific regulation and antitrust law

  • Kabiru Adamu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The current failures of electricity regulation in Nigeria are resulting from neoliberal, market-oriented ideas. The policies promised a competitive electricity market that would work well for all stakeholders. However, several years after implementation, these promises are yet to be realised. This thesis investigates the factors and root causes of the problems of the sector post-privatisation and the role that sector-specific regulation (SSR) and antitrust/competition law can and should play to solve them.

The thesis analyses the theoretical and conceptual basis for the neoliberal policies of electricity regulation, their assumptions, expectations, and outcomes in practice. It evaluates the shortcomings of the system and reveals how its theoretical ideas of free, unregulated and self-corrective markets devoid of state intervention could not work as expected by neoliberal theory. It discovers how the option translated into the practice of regulating electricity sectors using SSR and an interventionist antitrust law in advanced countries. Based on the experience and current practice in Britain and the EU lessons for legal transplantation by Nigeria are drawn.

A qualitative approach consisting of qualitative document analysis and semi-structured expert interviews was used to reveal that the electricity sector in Nigeria under post-privatisation suffers from corruption, regulatory capture, weak institutions of governance, slow development of the renewable energy market and anticompetitive practices by private electricity companies.

The study assesses the role of SSR and an interventionist antitrust law in improving the situation and argues for a strict and concurrent application of the two by a strong regulator and the pursuit of green energy investments and commitments as solutions to the market failures in the sector. As an in-depth case study on Nigeria as a developing country, it contributes to debates about electricity regulation under and beyond neoliberalism and about how SSR and the recent 2018 antitrust law in Nigeria will be concurrently applied and enforced to address market failures in the sector. It analyses how conflict can be resolved between the two. It is the first attempt to conduct an in-depth qualitative study and assessment of the post-privatisation problems in the electricity sector in Nigeria and the role of the new antitrust law in solving them.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsPetroleum Technology Development Fund & Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria
SupervisorDieter Pesendorfer (Supervisor) & Peter Doran (Supervisor)


  • Electricity
  • Regulation
  • Energy Law
  • Competition Law
  • Antitrust
  • Governance
  • Nigeria

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