The decree setting up the Electricity Services Regulatory Authority was approved in November. The body will have the power to issue licences for new projects, and will set and monitor standards to be met by the licensees. It will review costs and tariffs across the industry, and, with due regard to the interests of all parties involved, will be entitled to review tariff levels (MEED 16:11:01).

The appointment of Zedan has been welcomed by supporters of private investment in the power sector because of his long association with the reform programme. Zedan, who was born in Mecca in 1945, received a diploma in engineering from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany in 1970 and a PhD in high-voltage power systems from the University of Southern California in 1979. He was for many years a professor at the King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, in Dhahran. Among his recent posts, he has been a member of the Saudi negotiating team on the gas initiative.

With the governor now in place, the stage has been set for rapid progress to be made in opening up the power sector to private investment. ‘The regulator will now act immediately to implement the remaining reforms in the sector,’ says deputy industry & electricity minister Saleh al-Hussaini.

The board of SEC is expected to approve soon a masterplan for the restructuring of the company, based on proposals from a team of consultants including Arthur D Littleof the US (Saudi Arabia, MEED Special Report, 30:11:01).