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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds This paragraph is organised chronologically, that is to say in order, according to the dates when things happened. So there’s a movement from the time of independence, to the 1980s and then to the 1990s. At the same time there is a move from state-owned utilities, to a re-appraisal, to a demand for re-structuring of state provision to a demand for full-scale privatisation.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds This paragraph leader links back to the previous paragraph. Here we have “One of the chief reasons …” and this refers back to the chief reason for the slow implementation of reforms. The supporting sentences give further explanation and a statistic as evidence for this lack of interest. At first there was interest among investors, but this fell dramatically. The statistic shows that private investors in infrastructure were much more interested in other parts of the world.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds So, it was expected that private investors would be interested in investing, but this did not happen. The word “thus” introduces a consequence of this - governments had to re-align, or adjust their expectations. So instead of the “full-scale privatisation” mentioned in the first paragraph, they had to set much less ambitious aims, for example “short-term management contracts with private firms as an interim measure”.

Skip to 1 minute and 57 seconds The “donor spending” referred to in this paragraph leader takes the form of lending by the World Bank, one of the main global donors. Normally the World Bank would lend money to governments to develop state-owned infrastructure, but it was expected that privatisation projects would be so attractive to private investors that most of these loans would be unnecessary. The two supporting sentences provide statistics as evidence for this point.

Skip to 2 minutes and 30 seconds The phrase “At the same time” suggests that two things are happening during approximately the same period – a fall in World Bank lending for state-owned, or public, utility projects (which was discussed in the previous paragraph) and a rise in their lending to private investors. Again the supporting sentences provide statistical evidence.

Skip to 3 minutes and 0 seconds This paragraph leader summarises the points made in the previous paragraphs. The supporting sentence, introduced with “Moreover”, extends the argument. Because many countries have failed to repay World bank loans to schedule, they have been forced to accept austerity programmes with either freezes in public spending, or even reductions.

Paragraph leaders in a section of text

Look back at “Privatising Basic Utilities in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Millennium Development Goal Impact”, from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Read through the section titled “The Push for Privatisation”. This shows the complete section of text with the paragraph leaders in the correct place.

Then watch the video, which explains the paragraph structure for this section of the text, and relationships between ideas in paragraphs.

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This video is from the free online course:

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading