This paper builds upon empirical data collected from 42 interviews with decision-makers, regulated companies, and civil society organizations in the Egyptian telecoms sector to investigate the role of public consultations in regulatory decision-making processes. The analysis of regulatory decision-making mechanisms in the Egyptian telecoms sector has indicated that public consultations are regarded as integrated components of regulatory decision-making processes. Nonetheless, the paper emphasizes that the issue is not just about conducting these consultations in a ritualistic fashion to legitimize regulatory decisions. The way in which the input of interested stakeholders is taken into account by the sector’s independent regulator represents an important factor which affects the quality of regulatory decisions, the image of the regulator, and the overall legitimacy of regulatory governance.
The analysis of the interview responses from the Egyptian case has indicated that despite the best efforts of the regulatory agency to approach the interested stakeholders in the telecoms sector via consultation processes, for many of them, the regulatory decision-making process is still a black box. No one knows for sure what happens within the regulatory agency or how their responses to public consultations are dealt with. In other words, they see no direct link between their inputs and the final regulatory decisions. Following on from this the paper suggests that more openness and transparency is required regarding the way in which public consultation responses are dealt with and the relationship between public consultations in general and the final decisions taken by the independent regulatory agency.
This paper was published by I Paper dell’Osservatorio in September 2013.