I just came back from Karachi, where I discussed with our partners the imminent launch of a very exciting project in Pakistan. Thanks to a grant from the International Growth Center, we will investigate in the next year how non-payment rates for electricity could be reduced in emerging economies thanks to behavioral interventions.

The experimental design is being defined in partnership with K-Electric, a private, vertically integrated electric-energy corporation serving around 23 million residential, industrial and commercial customers in Karachi. Despite the company’s efforts in the last years to increase payment rates through a myriad of initiatives, recovery rates still range between 70 and 90%.

So our research team will test in the next months the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in fostering regular bill payment through a randomised field experiment. We started our research at the beginning of May by gathering some qualitative evidence from focus groups in Karachi. We will then launch in the next weeks the data collection scheduled to be performed on 1.500 customers.

The next phase of this work will be deployed in September with the delivery of more than 30.000 letters informing customers on the selective loadshedding policy performed by the utility company and making explicit the link between individual repayment decision and neighborhood level quality of energy provision.

The first results of this project shall be available in 2019, but don’t hesitate to contact me in the meanwhile if you want to know more.