Dossier de la Rédaction


Cameroon: Electricity for all by 2020?

Despite a strong potential for producing hydroelectric power Cameroon has never really managed to reduce its energy deficit. Now, the new minister in charge of the energy sector is determined to find a solution.

A gigantic hydroelectric dam with a capacity of between 400 and 500 megawatts (MW) in Kpep will be built in Menchum in north-east Cameroon. Negotiations between Basile Atangana Kouna, Cameroonian minister of Energy and Water and British company Joule Africa as well as its German partner Lahmeyer, for the project was initiated in London at the end of February. The consortium is getting ready to launch an assessment of the project's estimated costs.

What will follow is "a BuildOperateTransfer (BOT) contract, and construction is set to start between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. The dam will be operational two years later," the minister confirmed.

The two companies, who are already present on the continent, signed a $750m agreement in 2011 in Sierra Leone, aiming at increasing the capacity of the Bumbuna hydroelectric dam, from 50 MW to 400 MW by the end of this year. The Kpep hydroelectric power station would complement the projects that are already under way, some of which are in need of financing, which would eventually allow Cameroon to export electricity, according to Basile Atanga Kouna.

In total, the government intends to spend CFA 5.800bn (a little over $11.5million) between 2010-2020, to develop infrastructure for electricity production and distribution. But before then, Cameroon has to satisfy its own needs.

Although load shedding, which is severely affecting the industrial sector's development and slowing down the GDP growth (3.1 percent in 2011), has been reduced in the last two years, the country still has an electricity deficit. Half of Cameroonians do not have access to electricity.

Progress under way

With an electricity production capacity of 12.000 MW, placing it in third position behind DRC and Ethiopia, Cameroon doesn't produce more than 7.500 MW from its hydraulic energy sources. Total electricity production is at a little more than 1.000 MW. Henceforth, the objective set by the government is to triple that capacity by 2020.

And by reducing its energy deficit, Cameroon expects to see an increase in its GDP growth by 2 percent. Just like other countries of the region (Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, etc) that are also striving to boost their energy production, Cameroon has increased the number of projects. At the end of December, 2011, they managed to finalise the financing of a thermal gas plant in Kribi, which should be completed by the first trimester of 2013.

The thermal gas plant will have a capacity of 216MW that could be extended to 330 MW, and will be built and operated by Kribi Power Development Corporation (KPDC), a subsidiary of AES-Sonel - Cameroon's largest electricity supplier - at CFA 190bn ($379m). The project is partly financed by the state with CFA60bn ($119m), a consortium of local banks providing CFA40bn ($79.8m) and international investors with CFA 90bn ($179.5m). The gas needed for the construction site will be supplied by the end of 2012, by the Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (SNH).

Another project that will soon see a great progress is the construction of the Lom-Pangar dam on the Sanaga River, in the east of the country. Construction is handled by the Electricity Development Corporation (EDC), and should start before the end of the year. The plan is to build a water reserve of 6bn m3 to supply the Edéa and Song Loulou plants, in order to improve their production capacity from 450 MWh at present to 729 MWh by 2015.

"We believe that the financing (of more than CFA 200bn -$398m) will be settled by the end of June, 2012" according to the Ministry of Energy and Water.

The latest investors' assessment, including entities such as the AFD, the European Investment Bank, World Bank, BAD or BDEAC, was done in January, with a positive outcome. In the weeks ahead, the heads of these institutions need to decide on the level of their participation. "We remain optimistic, because the government has responded satisfactorily by providing partners with a working plan for hydro-electric power, and has taken concrete steps with respect to indebtedness and access to water," Kouna explained.

Kouna is also the head of Camwater, a public agency that specializes in the development of infrastructure for water production and distribution in Cameroon.

Boost production

In addition to Lom-Pangar, works on at least two other infrastructural projects are expected to begin between 2013 and 2014. One of them is the hydro-electric power plant in Nachtigal, which has a capacity of 250MW ($780m), and could spur the yearly production of Aluminum du Cameroun. Another one is the $477m Memve'ele plant on the Ntem River expected to add 200MW to the total production.

In all, Cameroon seems to be well on track to catch up on its delays in energy production. And if the government respects the deals made with investors, there should be no problem finalising the projects.

This article was first published in the March 10 to 17, 2012 edition of our sister publication, Jeune Afrique

Commentaires (0)
Seul les utilisateurs enregistrés peuvent écrire un commentaire!

!joomlacomment 4.0 Copyright (C) 2009 . All rights reserved."

haut de page