Energy Supply : Basics For Any Development

Many may just sigh and give up listening or reading anything to do with electricity problems in the country. It is an issue that keeps coming up every dry season and rainy season. Load shedding has become a sing-song in the past decades, irrespective of the effort made by government to ensure that households and industries are adequately served with energy. Be it cost factors and organisational challenges that have hampered solutions to the energy crisis in Cameroon, the bottom-line remains that without the right solutions in place, the energy deficit witnessed across the country will continue. Some sources talk of 100 to 140 MW deficit in the South Interconnected grid in transmission lines between Edea and Douala.    
Unfortunately, it has not been the lack of alternative solutions, but the inability to tackle the basic issues capable of providing lasting solutions. The Memve’ele Dam has continued to inject about 170 MW instead of the required 211 MW into the energy supply chain. This is far below expectation partly because the initial 60 MW from the Nachtigal Dam that is under construction which was announced for December 2023 is yet to be made available. There has equally been sharp drop in water level recorded in Ntem River due to the harsh dry season.     
Although it is a long-standing problem, the inability of those in charge to provide gas that can power the different Thermal Gas Stations constructed to cover up for energy supply shortfalls during the dry season or in case of hydroelectric dams failing to meet their quotas are issues of concern. Providing prompt solutions to such challenges could have been a salutary response to the energy needs of the country.     
A recent exchange of administrative notes between the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy and the Energy of Cameroon S.A. (Eneo) which is the country’s national electricity utility company has made matters even clearer. In substance, the Minister on 9 February, 2024 wrote to Eneo warning them of the danger that constant lack of electricity has on households and businesses interest in the country and that it was time for the company to wake up. In response to the one-page complaint, ENEO wrote a six-page document on 14 February 2024, including annex table of engagements that both sides took which have not been fulfilled. 
Eneo is the country’s historic electricity company with 51 per cent of its share capital held by Actis, five per cent by Eneo employees and 44 per cent by the State of Cameroon. There is a 30-year concession which ought to end in 2031 and Eneo has already announcing its determination to leave the market, making the complexities more obvious. This is because the main shareholders want to end their deal with the government seven years ahead of time. This means alternative solutions have to be sought to ensure that citizens are guaranteed steady power supply.     
As the search for the replacement of Eneo continues, energy supply needs of inhabitants and businesses keep growing with varied consequences. Some investors and consumer bodies have pointed out that between 15 to 30 per cent business turnover is being compromised regularly in the country presently. They say with sectors such as plastic production; it is inadmissible to support even a five-minute power failure because that will require taking over the entire production process. Several homes constantly witness the destruction of electrical appliance as a result of unstable energy production. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to talk of any sustained economic growth.     
Yet, the objectives of the National Development Strategy 2020-2030 (SND-2020-2030) are well known to stakeholders. In the same vein, the vision 2035 that has been the main target for the country to attain the status of a Middle income nation remains highly dependent on reliable and cost-effective energy supply. Clearly, there is an example that should speak volumes if the right measures are taken for the situation to be normalised.     
In January this year, the Lom-Pangar Dam released 30 MW into the East Region, thereby enabling the locality to have sufficient electricity for both households and businesses. In 2023 the Minister of Water Resources and En...



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