(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroon plans to open the electricity metering equipment supplying market to new operators. These operators will mainly supply smart meters and offer technical assistance for the management of the equipment, therefore, creating up to 36,000 new direct jobs in segments like meter manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and control.
This is the revelation made in the feasibility study of a call presented on November 11, 2021, by the electricity sector regulator Arsel in Yaoundé. Funding for the project baptized ‘ filialisation des services de comptage de l’électricité au Cameroun’ (spinning electricity metering services off in Cameroon) was approved by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the African Private Sector Assistance fund FAPA. It aims to bring the private sector into the electricity sector’s management segment to boost the metering sub-segment through innovative methods.
The AfDB’s fund will also support the elaboration of draft laws regulating prepaid and smart meter uses in the country. According to the Arsel, the project has several benefits for the electricity sector in general and users in particular. First, by opening the metering segment to new operators, a solution will be found to users' numerous electricity metering complaints (inaccurate or disputed bills). For the regulator, metering complaints account for 60% of the mediation cases it receives from users.
First, it indicates, the project will boost the electricity access rate by accelerating the pace of new connections. According to data from the Ministry of Water and Energy (Minee), over the past ten years, an average of 80,000 new electricity connections was made yearly. At that rate, "it will take another ten years for the public sector to double the number of customers billed and to make up for the meter deficit, estimated at 1.8 million units,” the Minee estimates. Meanwhile, within ten years, 3.4 million smart meters can be installed once the segment is open.
The Cameroonian authorities’ plan to open the sector will also improve revenue collection while reducing technical and commercial losses. Estimates put financial gain over ten years to XAF350 billion officially.
Brice R. Mbodiam