Disconnected Households in Urban Water and Electricity Services, Buenos Aires

Special Report: Networks in Cities of the Global South
A Commercial Opportunity or Risk?
By Sarah Botton

The privatisation of Argentinian public utilities at the beginning of the 1990s offers an interesting framework to analyse the articulations between the strategies of the new private operators and social requirements for urban services. In the water and electricity supply sectors, in particular, the “disconnection” (or non connection) of a significant number of underprivileged Buenos Aires districts largely shaped the strategies of utility companies and gradually led them to redefine the missions they had been initially assigned in the contracts. Moreover, the crisis faced by the country since December 2001 and the contracts renegotiation since the devaluation of the peso accentuated the concerns of private operators to maintain a profitable activity while guaranteeing universal access to a good quality service, in a context of massive increase of poverty. This article analyses the progressive construction of the operators’ strategies for the “disconnected districts” of the urban area, guided by very contrasted sectoral logics and on a context of withdrawal of public authorities from these matters.

Go to the article on Cairn-int.info