(Business in Cameroon) - The Cameroonian government has chosen auditing firm KPMG France to assist in the process of renationalizing the national electricity company Eneo. This decision follows a call for tenders that was initiated two months ago.
According to sources close to the matter, the selected bidder will be tasked with evaluating the current value of Eneo's shares, a crucial step for the signing of a transactional agreement. The agreement aims to facilitate the Cameroonian government's acquisition of 100% of Actis' assets in Eneo. Let’s recall that Eneo is currently controlled by the British investment fund Actis, which in 2013 acquired the shares of the American company AES, following the privatization of Cameroon's electricity sector in 2001.
The government's ambition is outlined in a letter sent earlier this month by the Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Republic (SGPR), Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, to the Secretary-General of the Prime Minister's Office, Séraphin Fouda. "I am pleased to inform you that the steps concerning the acquisition of Actis' shares in Eneo by the State will be overseen by an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Minister of Finance, with support from the Minister of Water and Energy and the Minister of the Economy. The President instructs the committee to give special consideration to the management of this matter," the letter read.
This move comes as negotiations between Actis and the National Social Insurance Fund (CNPS) have come to light. Several months ago, the Cameroonian public pension fund was identified as a potential buyer of Actis' assets in Eneo, in partnership with the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH), a key player in oil exploration and production in Cameroon. The SGPR's aforementioned letter also revealed that the Director-General of CNPS is a member of the inter-ministerial committee, indicating the public company's interest in acquiring stakes in the electricity company.
The government is, therefore, relying on a public company with a strong financial performance to replicate the success seen in the water sector. Since 2007, the distribution of drinking water in Cameroon had been conceded to Camerounaise des Eaux (CDE), a company created in 2008 and controlled by a Moroccan consortium led by the Office National de l'Eau Potable (ONEP). This consortium includes MedZ, Delta Holding, and the public works consultancy Ingema. After a decade of operation, Cameroon's Head of State instructed the government not to renew the contract upon its expiration. Instead, the government was directed to take all necessary measures to ensure that Camwater (Cameroon Water Utilities) takes over. This decision marked the end of the privatization of this activity, which was previously entrusted to the now-defunct Société nationale des eaux du Cameroun (Snec).
It is worth noting that privatization has not significantly improved operations in Cameroon in both the electricity and drinking water sectors, especially regarding service quality.