Cameroon’s creaking power grid is continuing to pose problems for electricity customers as the West African nation’s national concessionaire, Eneo, complains of a shortfall in developmental financing.
Sections of the Yaounde network were “practically blinking” for days, with particular disruption in the Ekounou, Nkomo, Emombo, Mimboman, Mvog-Ebanda and Ngoulmelong.
Eneo, which is now a generation and distribution operator following the removal of transmission from its remit in October 2015, said operations had also been affected by maintenance at the southern transmission grid.
Cameroon’s 225-kV southern grid is thought to be responsible for transmitting more than 90% of the country’s electricity consumption.
It also has a smaller 110/90-kV grid, linking northern Cameroon to the 72-MW Lagdo HPP, and a 30-kV connection running to the east.
Transmission and distribution have long proved an Achilles heel for Cameroon’s electricity sector, though Eneo has made progress with the backing of international development financing in recent years.
Further development will be needed to avoid hampering a planned doubling of generation capacity to 3,000 MW by 2020, based on 720 MW of fresh hydro output.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electricity and heat dropouts in Cameroon amounted to 9.82% in 2014, markedly down on the 17% technical loss rate reported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for 2009. Yaounde has since reclaimed control of the transmission segment for state-owned SONATREL, which aims to tap expertise from RTE France.
The new venture will have access to 660 billion CFA francs (US$1.07 billion) of World Bank financing, including a 190 billion CFA franc tranche (US$307.1 million) which was reported to be on the verge of release.
This leaves Eneo tackling the distribution end of operations, which has consistently dragged down the firm’s relatively profitable generation segment. UK-based equity firm Actis operates Eneo with a 56% interest, with Yaounde owning the remaining 44% stake.
Eneo invested 67 billion CFA francs (US$108.45 million) in the distribution grid between 2014 and 2016, according to CamerPost, but has reportedly argued it should be allocated more financing under the concessionaire agreement it assumed responsibility for in May 2014.