Renewable Energy Supply For Rural Areas
|Jean Pierre Kedi|
SMEs have been called upon to set up small hydro and biomass electricity production plants.The energy situation in rural Cameroon is characterised by traditional fuels like kerosene, wood, and low-power generators. Where the national power utility corporation is present, electricity supplies are unreliable, access limited, use often inefficient, and are still without access to modern energy services.
With funds from the European Union, provision was made for the organisation of two training workshops on the technical aspects and business model of production and distribution projects of electric energy using hydropower and agricultural residues, for the benefit of at least 100 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Cameroon.
Douala is the second after Yaounde to host the workshop to spur SMEs to set up hydro and biomass electricity production plant projects. The workshop underway in Douala runs through Monday, April 7 to Friday, April 11. The purpose is to vulgarise decentralised production technologies of electric energy via the use of small hydroelectric plants and agricultural or forestry residues, amongst others.
In his opening remarks, Jean Pierre Kedi, General Manager of the Electricity Regulatory Agency (ARSEL), said 850.000 Cameroonians are subscribed to electricity; 600.000 being domestic subscribers, giving less than 15% of the total population, which remains low and is a handicap to the production of goods and services.
Cameroon, according to Mr. Kedi, is the second with the best potential for electricity production in Africa. What therefore accounts for the insufficient electricity supply in the country? Hear him: “We did a wrong choice of our electricity source, neglected maintenance and did not modernise the sector.” Cameroon will only find solace from its current electricity crisis if it creates competitiveness – a major outcome expected of the applied training workshop.
SME representatives were encouraged to invest in the electricity sector, which is more profitable than cocoa and coffee. Participants were called upon to stop believing that investment in the sector is achievable only with foreign funding, noting that even with their own resources, it is still feasible and profitable. SMEs are, therefore, spurred to seize the opportunity to set up small hydroelectricity production plants at some 200 sources identified in the country.