Known for holding Africa’s third largest hydropower potential (after the DRC and Ethiopia), Cameroon bares itself as a potential solar attraction as well.Cameroon is currently harnessing only 721MW of its estimated 12,000MW hydropower capacity.
This alone is a thunderous snippet of information; however, with its average solar radiation ranging from 4.5kWh/sqm/day in the south to 5.74kWh/sqm/day in the north, the focus should not be entirely on hydro resources, writes Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl, editor of ESI Africa.
Harnessing various technologies is essential to develop a sustainable and efficient energy mix while supporting economic growth and development for Cameroon. It is reasonable to say that the region’s stakeholders have reached the point of agreeing on what the generation potential is and what the technology mix can comprise. The question now is how this can be realistically achieved – the specific legislation and actions that will lay the foundation for financial commitments and development of bankable power projects.
Tide of change for Cameroon
Exploring a few headlines in 2017 that sparked interest in this central African country, the topmost feature bears witness to progress with the official launch of construction works for the 30MW LomPangar Hydroelectric Dam project. At the launch ceremony, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, expressed delight about this prominent project, highlighting that it will supply electricity to the entire eastern region of Cameroon. [AfDB issues its Light Up and Power Africa Bond]
Predicted for completion within 30 months, the $68 million project is financed by the AfDB and the Development Bank of Central African States, with the AfDB providing $52 million. For power to reach its intended customers, the project includes a 105km 90kV transmission line.
In high spirits, the Deputy Mayor of Belabo, Thierry Angelo Mvodjongo, said the laying of this foundation stone for the hydropower generation plant, which will light up 150 localities, is a sign of hope.
Another hopeful development is the government of Cameroon opening discussions with Tunisia for the transfer of technology knowledge.
The objective of the partnership, with Tunisian-based Borj Cedria Ecopark, is to implement a training programme in renewable and sustainable energy for Cameroonian engineers and researchers.
Improving and enhancing the skills and knowledge of a country’s engineers is an important element to develop and maintain the energy market – this is a progressive step and one that will have a far-reaching impact on the energy sector.
Along with skills, the country is keen on increasing its national electricity access rate of 55% by adding one million connections to the national grid by 2035 - and in August, put forth a tender for Phase II of its rural electrification project, funded through the Islamic Development Bank. In this tender, funds are identified for the construction of medium- and low-tension power distribution lines and the connection of beneficiary households.
Developments like these in Cameroon will hopefully do away with prolonged power outages and increase electrification rates (reported at 55% in 2016) even further.
Featured image: Lom-Pangar Hydroelectric, Cameroon. Source: AfDB