(Business in Cameroon) - The Cameroonian population will soon experience episodes of rolling blackout, which the power utility Eneo blamed in a January 25 statement on the decline in production of the Memvé’éle dam (211 MW).
"The disruptions in the production of electricity following the drop in the flow of water in Ntem River will cause rationing of supply in the Central, South, East, Littoral, West, Northwest and Southwest regions. Electricity Development Corporation (the state-owned electricity company, ed) has informed Eneo that the drop in production at Memvé'élé will continue until March. Despite the contribution of thermal power plants, the deficit between supply and demand will not be fully covered during this period," the statement read.
This means that six of Cameroon's ten regions will be left in the dark from time to time over the next two months, impacting economic activities and household comfort. Sources revealed that the Memvé'élé dam is forecasted to not reach its 211 MW installed capacity this year, due to the low flow of the Ntem River and the variations in hydrology during low water periods. For example, there has been a drastic decrease in the production of Memve'ele, which has gone from 90 MW available 24 hours a day during the entire AfCON period (between January and February 2022) to 30 MW only in the evening (between 18:00 and 22:00) and 0 MW outside these hours, a few days later.
To face the problem, Cameroonian authorities are considering building an additional dam reservoir on the Ntem River. The Head of State has even prescribed the acceleration of this project, according to the Minister of Water and Energy (Minee), Gaston Eloundou Essomba. This situation however questions the government's choice to build a 211 MW hydroelectric plant on the Ntem, whose flow is much lower than that of the Sanaga River. The latter houses 75% of the country's hydroelectric potential.
As a reminder, the Memvé'élé infrastructure is cited in a World Bank report as one of those Cameroonian projects whose costs are two to six times higher than those of similar projects carried out in countries with the same level of development as Cameroon. The government explained the high project cost (CFA450 billion) by the extension of the delivery times of the sites, which led to the prolonged mobilization of machinery and other personnel on the sites, with the financial implications thereof.
Brice R. Mbodiam