Monthly Archives: July 2016

The importance of a flexible energy policy in Cameroon by Eposi Ethel Ekeke, 21 July 2016

Without energy in the world today, the society as we know will crumble. The cutoff of power supply to a city for 24 hours shows how totally dependent we are on that particularly useful form of energy. Life and computers ceases to function, hospitals sinks, maintenance level and the lights go out.

Energy exists in many different forms, all of which measure the ability of an object or system to do some work. Examples of these are light energy, heat energy, mechanical energy, electrical energy, sound energy, gravitational energy, electrical energy, chemical energy, nuclear or atomic energy and so on. This article will focus on renewable energy, the forms that exist in Cameroon, how much has been exploited and proposed solutions for an energy policy.

Most renewable energy comes either directly or indirectly from the sun. Sunlight, or solar energy, can be used directly for heating and lighting homes and other buildings, for generating electricity, and for hot water heating, solar cooling, and a variety of commercial and industrial uses.

Not all renewable energy resources come from the sun. Geothermal energy taps the Earth’s internal heat and the energy of the ocean’s tides come from the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun upon the Earth.
Cameroon, Africa in miniature is a country with a lot of potential: rich in natural resources and fertile soils and a vibrant age group, being the most populated country in the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC) region, with fast growing population of about 23,924,407 inhabitants in 2016 . Unlike other African countries, Cameroon benefits from a relatively high social and political stability seen in the fact that she has not suffered from any major political conflict since independence except from the recent Boko Haram.

Concerning energy resources, Cameroon is endowed with abundance of renewable energy sources most of which is underutilized or unexploited. In Cameroon today, a great majority of the population still relies on conventional solid fuels such as charcoal for domestic activities. However, other sources of energy exist such as hydropower, coal, petroleum, biofuels and waste (most of which is not recycled). Those other energy sources are not exploited and most of Cameroon’s electricity is obtained gotten from three major hydroelectric power stations which are Edea, Lagdo and Song Loulou with ongoing hydroelectric projects like the Memve’ele, the Lom Pangar and Mekin hydroelectric power stations.

Second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo in terms of the possession of hydro stations, electricity is still unevenly distributed in Cameroon with electricity been concentrated in the urban areas while some rural areas are not served. The access rate to electricity per households is around 40% for the whole country and less than 15% in rural areas.

Energy consumption in Cameroon is mostly done by households who use such energy for cooking, heating and other domestic activities. Also, energy is used by the commercial and public services including healthcare (hospitals and ministries), education, business and administration. Furthermore, industries and transport (cars, trains, and airplanes) consume a large proportion of energy in Cameroon. Despite the fact that Cameroon has other energy potentials like biomass and natural gas, little resources have been allocated to develop them, explaining the almost complete dependence on hydroelectricity (74 % of Eneo Cameroon generation is from hydro). Furthermore, since the agricultural sector still uses rudimentary tools, most of the energy consumed is basically through fuelling of tractors, manufacturing fertilizers and powering or heating processing crop.

In Cameroon, combustible (capable of burning) renewable remain the major source of energy.

Among the combustibles, wood remains the major energy source across the country. The second largest energy resources consumed in Cameroon are oil products such as kerosene which is mostly used in rural areas where there is no electricity and for cooking.

In its vision 2035 , the Cameroonian government has developed an objective to invest in the energy sector with its major target being to increase energy production in order to meet up with the increased demand caused by population growth and the current economic boom especially in the industrial sector. This is also aimed at attracting both foreign and national investors. Thus, the need for renewable energy.

In terms of Cameroon energy potentials, hydropower remains the major source of energy in Cameroon although its resources have not been completely exploited. Also, there is good solar potential which is not well developed due to limited commitment and dedication of government in taking important steps to boost the sector, save a few solar panels which have been installed in Yaounde used mostly for lighting, nothing else has been done. Furthermore, wind energy is almost completely neglected, there are only about two rapid wind turbines installed in Douala meanwhile the regions which have warm springs like Ngaoundere, the mount Cameroon area and the Muanenguba zone which can generate great amounts of wind energy have not been developed. Being a dominantly agricultural economy, Cameroon has a large and unutilized potential of biomass primarily from agriculture and forest. Also, palm oil produced by companies like PAMOL, CDC, SOCAPALM and SAFACAM have been used to generate biodiesel which is mainly used for agricultural purposes within the companies.

Furthermore, some rural areas face deforestation due to the fact that wood cut for domestic purposes like cooking and heating is not been replaced and that has led to many challenges of energy affordability and environmental impact. Finally, Cameroon has potentials for geothermal energy which has not been tapped. There are hot water regions like the Ngaoundere region and the mount Cameroon region amongst others, but little or no feasibility studies have been carried out to identify their full potential.

In Cameroon, several attempts have been made at coming up with an energy policy as outlined below,

– A series of specific laws and decrees were enacted between 1998 and 2000 to set a new electricity regulatory framework, where competition principles and private involvement could be developed under the supervision of the Electricity Sector Regulatory Agency (ARSEL). They were as follows; Law n°98/022 of 24 December 1998 governing the electricity sector Decree n°99/125 of 15 June 1999 to set up the organization and functioning of the Electricity Sector Regulatory Agency, Decree n°99/193 of 8 September 1999 to set up the organization and functioning of the Rural Electrification Agency and Decree n°2000/464/PM of 30 June 2000 governing the activities of the electricity sector.

– Also, there is the Energy Sector Development Plan (PDSE 2030) which seeks to get the country out of under-development, through the implementation of the long-term Least Cost Development Plan and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).

– The new electricity law N° 2011/022 passed on the 14th of December 2011 also introduced additional stakeholders which stipulate the liberalisation of energy production. This law also introduced additional stakeholders that are yet to be operational: the EDF-Electricity Sector Development Fund, TSO- Transmission Service Operator, owned by the State.

– Furthermore, the Vision 2035 has significant plan concerning the development of renewable energy. The policy goals of the government are to ensure energy independence through increased production and delivery of electricity, of oil and gas (petroleum resources) and to ensure their contribution to economic development. In this vision the government aims at increasing its capacity to 4000 MW by 2020.

– Finally, there is also a plan known as the rural electrification plan which aims at developing access to electricity in rural areas. Targets electrification in 660 localities through the extension of the interconnected grids, the rehabilitation and construction of isolated diesel power plants and mini-hydro plants as well as the development of a regional grid.

Thus, in order for Cameroon to benefit from its great potential, an energy policy should be developed which is flexible enough to include the following:

First of all, the energy policy should promote independent electricity production. Currently, the production and distribution of electric energy in Cameroon is in the hands of one company which is Eneo. This company exercises monopoly over the market and so faces no competition from any other producer or distributor. For this reason, they are not motivated to deliver the best services and their prices are quite high. This explains the constant electricity issues which the country faces like frequent electricity outages and electricity bills which do not match consumption. Thus, it is recommended that the production and distribution of electricity should be liberalized and independent producers should be encouraged to enter the market as stipulated by Law No 2011/022 of 14th December 2011. This will lead to increased production and competition which will result in better services and lower prices.

Secondly, the energy policy should promote the development of renewable energies like solar thermal and photovoltaic, wind power, exploitable hydropower streams with power exceeding 5MW, biomass energy, geothermal energy and energies from marine origin. The state should therefore ensure the promotion and development of renewable energy as well as provide the conditions, procedures and mechanisms for research and development, local production of materials and project financing. This will go a long way to fill the void which exists in terms of demand of supply of energy in Cameroon.

Also, the financial market should be taken into consideration. The Cameroonian government should develop the Douala Stock Exchange, make sure that all energy producing companies are listed in this financial market and encourage private investors to invest in the energy sector through this stock exchange. This will ensure that energy producing companies have enough capital to invest in their activities which will further lead to an improvement in the services offered.

Furthermore, Transparency International‘s ‘Corruption Perception Index’ has ranked Cameroon alongside Nigeria, the 18th most corrupt country in Africa for 2015. Corruption is endemic in Cameroon and significantly increases the costs and risks of doing business. The legal and regulatory systems are non-transparent and difficult for foreign companies to navigate. Corruption risks are further exacerbated by a non-transparent revenue collecting system and opaque licensing processes for extractive industries. Companies report corruption is among the most problematic factor for doing business in Cameroon. Thus, the Cameroon government has to intensify its efforts to combat bribery and corruption through the Operation Sparrow Hawk and other corruption fighting bodies in order to make the business environment more conducive for both local and foreign investors.

By and large, it can be concluded that the Cameroon government should ensure energy independence; Diversification in supply, Promote and increase access rates in the use of cleaner forms of energy, Rational utilisation (energy efficiency & conservation); Attract investments via the liberalisation of economic activities, competitive rules and the involvement of private capital.

Eposi Ethel Ekeke is a diplomat at the Ministry of External Relations with a Masters in International Relations (option, Diplomacy), obtained from the International Relations Institute Cameroon (IRIC). She is finance, trade and international relations analyst with CACLiTA. She also holds a Post graduate diploma (Maitrise) in Management (University of Yaounde II, Soa) and a Bachelor of Science in Banking and Finance (University of Buea).

– Eneo Cameroon is short form for Energy of Cameroon and it is the only company in Cameroon charged with the production and distribution of elelctricity in Cameroon.
– VISION 2035 has as main objective to make Cameroon an emerging country by 2035, with the specific objectives being to: eradicate poverty by reducing it to less than 10 per cent thanks to accelerated and job-generating growth, become a middle income country in order to increase the average income, become a newly industrialized country and become an emerging country.
– Biodiesel is a form of diesel fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant greases. It is safe, biodegradable, and produces less air pollutants than petroleum-based diesel.
– Asan Vernyuy Wirba et al, Renewable energy potentials in Cameroon: Prospects and Challenges, Volume 76, April 2015, Pages 560-565
– Pierre-Olivier Pineau, Transparency in the Dark – An Assessment of the Cameroonian Electricity Sector Reform, August 12, 2004, at

Click to access Cameroon_Doing_Business_Guides_Pt.1.pdf


Posted by on July 21, 2016 in renewable energy


Boosting renewable energy for a better business environment in Cameroon, by Sirri Caro Nfornah, 13 July 2016

Cameroon is a growing economy with rapidly increasing electricity demands, particularly in the industrial sector. The utility is currently grappling with a power deficit, and energy efficiency measures are becoming critical for meeting Cameroon’s electricity demand in short to medium term. Cameroon’s development objectives, under the programme Vision 2035, contemplates significant investments in the energy sector including renewable energy. The policy goals of the government are to ensure energy independence through increased production and distribution of electricity (through the development of Cameroon’s hydropower potential), of oil and gas and to contribute to economic development. According to Basil Atangana Kouna, Cameroon’s Minister of Water and Energy Resources, “Energy supply has been the main hurdle in Cameroon’s path towards economic growth.”

According to the Electricity Sector Regulation Agency (ARSEL), Cameroon has significant considerable hydroelectric resources, renewable energies and small hydrocarbons. Apart from oil, Cameroon has natural gas reserves currently estimated at about 186 billion m³ as well as has the second hydroelectric potential in Sub-Saharan Africa after the democratic Republic of Congo(19.7 GW fair technical potential for energy production of 115 TWh / year). In terms of solar energy, Cameroon has a rich and handy potential, especially in the country’s northern part.

The organization, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in a 2012 Policy Database reported that, 70% to 80% of Cameroon’s power is derived from hydropower sources, with the remainder from conventional thermal sources. Cameroon’s first independent power producing agreement (IPP) will add 216 MW in power generation and trigger the development of Cameroon’s gas reserves, as yet unexploited. Also, Cameroon will further increase its generation capacity when the new Lom Pangar plant becomes fully operational. Moreover, the wind potential of Cameroon is significant and economically exploitable, mainly in the regions of western Cameroon and the Adamawa region. Cameroon thus stands to gain much from exploiting additional resources for electricity supply, and promoting a market-oriented energy policy.

Despite the country’s abundant resource potential and availability of conventional (oil and gas) and renewable (hydro and solar) resources, energy access rate is very low, standing at only 18% in 2013. According to the World Bank Investment Climate Assessment, limited access to reliable electricity is among the 5 top obstacles to doing business in Cameroon. It is estimated that the lack of reliable energy services is costing Cameroon close to 2% of the gross domestic product growth.

Although they are prescribed by the regulations in force, renewable energies are almost inexistent in Cameroon. Law N ° 2011/022 of 14 December 2011 governing the electricity sector in Part IV spells out general goals for promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and for the use of renewables within the context of expanding rural electrification. The law also states that the State will ensure the promotion and development of renewable energy through establishing regulation for conditions and mechanisms for research, development, production of equipment and project financing. Also, in its title IV, Chapter I, Law n°98/022 of 24 December 1998 governing the electricity sector, the Electricity Sector Regulatory Agency (ARSEL) and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) are in charge of the promotion and the follow-up of the use of the primary sources of energy, in particular renewable sources.

According to REEEP in the same report quoted above, the key constraints facing the electricity sector relate to the narrow geographic space and relative obsolescence of the transmission and distribution networks. Consequently, there is significant unmet solvent demand. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the country’s three main transmission grids are completely isolated from one another and no exchange of available surpluses can be made between the grids.

Cameroon’s Ministry of Water Resources and Energy (MINEE) through ARSEL requested the formulation of a National Policy, Strategy and Action Plan for the development of Energy Efficiency Policy in the country which would be developed by 2030 yet it seems the formulation and implementation of the long-term Energy Sector Development Plan (PDSE 2030) is lagging.

Renewables are often identified as too costly, mainly due to high investment costs. The renewable sector unfortunately lacks competent human resources to plan, design, install, monitor and maintain energy systems — but demand for this expertise is growing. Addressing the human resource issue is a key point for attaining the objectives.

In order to meet the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, effective leadership is also a key issue for the attainment of the targets within Cameroon. At national and regional levels, political authorities should be involved and support the action. There is also need for these leaders and actor to be corrupt free. This would lead to the generation of champions. It is also important to promote private investments in the electricity sector, in order for the population to benefit from a competitive service through innovation and efficient management of the available resources.

Moreover, politicians and government leadership of the country have to be aware of the opportunities that exist in the use of Renewable Energy as an alternative source of energy, and then put policies in place to advance the sector.

A renewable energy policy is being prepared, with policy goals to increase the share of renewables in power and heat generation, and to involve private capital in the delivery of energy but it has to be an articulate energy policy which is vital in leading the country towards effective utilisation of its resources. This policy will favour investments in the corporate and industrial sector to invest.

The need for scaling-up investments in small- to medium- sized renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Cameroon remains urgent. In spite of the country’s endowment of vast renewable energy resources, much of the population still suffers from limited access to affordable and reliable modern energy services.

The current state of affairs in the Cameroonian energy sector should be an eye-opener for the country to raise awareness and educate key stakeholders to create and develop an enabling environment for rapid renewable energy market development.

Mrs. Sirri Caro Nfornah is a diplomat by training currently at the Ministry of External Relations, Cameroon. She also doubles as the Public relations Officer for the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action, (CACLiTA), Cameroon.

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Posted by on July 13, 2016 in corruption, renewable energy


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