(Business in Cameroon) - On May 10, the Minister of Water and Energy (MINEE) Gaston Eloundou Essomba sent a letter to ENEO’s CEO Eric Mansuy instructing the electric utility to take measures to reduce load sheddings during the daytime in the three northern regions, between May 12 and June 30, 2021. According to the official, this instruction follows the "multiple complaints from the population, local elected officials, traditional and administrative authorities.”
In his letter, the MINEE ordered ENEO not to ration electricity supply in the regions during the celebration of the "Festival of Breaking the Fast." Also, ENEO should reduce the daytime rationing period from 5 hours currently to 2 hours max starting from the day after the festival to the end of June 2021. ENEO is also instructed to take the required measures to increase, by at least 6MW, the production of the Djamboutou power plant (which has been generating just 16MW of energy during the daytime for weeks now despite its 30MW installed capacity, according to the MINEE) between 7 am and 6 pm.
Minister Gaston Eloundou Essomba also enjoins ENEO to ensure that the Ngaoundéré plant constantly generates 8 to 9 MW of energy. In addition, the electric utility is to reduce the volume of energy supplied to industrial clients during the daytime to allow households, administrations, and small businesses to serenely carry out their daily operations. Finally, the electric utility is asked to accelerate the replacement of wooden poles and defective MV/LV transformers throughout the RIN distribution network.
Heavy fuel costs
ENEO has declined to comment on the instructions issued by the MINEE. Nevertheless, according to a letter sent by ENEO, the company's executives will hold a videoconference with Minister Gaston Eloundou Essomba in the afternoon (4 pm) today May 11, 2021, to detail the action plan elaborated for the implementation of the above-mentioned instructions.
Sources within the electricity sector think that without government support measures, the said measures will be difficult to implement. As they explain, the measures will require a lot of short-term investments. Indeed, due to climatic constraints, the Lagdo dam, which used to generate almost all of the energy supplied in the northern regions of Cameroon, has practically dried up. This situation forced authorities to install additional power plants in those regions. The main challenge now is to raise the funds necessary to operate those thermal power plants.
As per written correspondence between ENEO and the MINEE in late 2020, XAF30 billion is needed to ensure fuel supplies for the operations of thermal power plants in the northern regions this year. This envelope is up by XAF18 billion, compared to initial projections. One of the reasons that explain such an increase in the initial fuel costs is the 20MW additional energy generation capacity transferred from the Ahala power plant to Garoua (12MW) and Ngaoundéré (8MW). According to authorized sources, the additional monthly fuel cost generated by those plants is XAF3 billion.
Brice R. Mbodiam