The Republic of Cameroon has 26 million inhabitants of which 11 million live in rural areas. The largest rural population is found in the Far North region. The region represents 18% of the total population, of which an estimated 88% live in rural areas and 74% live below the poverty line. The main energy sector institutions are the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy (MINEE), Electricity Sector Regulatory Agency (ARSEL), and national utility Energy of Cameroon (ENEO).
The national electrification rate has significantly increased from 2000 to 2020, but significant disparities exist between regions. Besides, the Cameroonian population continuously experience electricity cuts. The national electrification rate in urban areas is high compared to the rate in rural areas; But northern areas do have the lowest electrification rate in the country. Nevertheless, only 3,700 (26%) of the 14,207 localities within Energy of Cameroon’s (ENEO’s) concession are connected to the greatest demand voltage line or an isolated power plant
The increased electrical demand can be explained by a growth in population density due to rural exodus, rapid urbanization, and economic growth leading to the exponential demand for modern technology. It is important to mention that rural areas in Cameroon do not have continuous access to electrical power. This is because it is expensive to provide this service in those deserted areas characterised by low electrical consumption. Another reason is the challenge in designing and implementing rural electrical networks due to the complex landscape present in remote localities. Again, low rural incomes can lead to the problem of affordability, and the long distances mean greater electricity losses and more expensive customer support and equipment maintenance. These factors explain the lack of electricity in major villages of Cameroon.
This problem of electrification could be resolved by the use of solar energy. Cameroon because of its geographic location has moderate to high levels of Global Photovoltaic Power Potential. The solar energy potential available in the country is massive, despite a poor commitment of the government to boost up the alternative sector. Across Cameroon, there is an estimated annual average of 4.9 kWh/m2/ day, with an estimated 5.7-6 kWh/m2 /day in the north and 4kWh/m2 /day in the south. A recent study by the University of Dschang identified photovoltaic (PV) systems to be among the foremost economical options for villages in the northern region. In the previous .
The Cameroonian government conscious of this solar potential is looking forward to implementing solar Photovoltaic electrification of some cities under a program named, Cameroon 2020 Photovoltaic Power Project. This project targets grid-unconnected rural villages as well as grid-connected urban underserved populations. The program is planning to develop 500 MW of installed PV capacity throughout the country for a production of 750 GWh (roughly 1500 MWh/year for an installed capacity of 1 MW. The first phase of the program plans to install a total PV capacity of 110MW in different sites within the country. Several of these project sites are located in rural areas or areas with low electrical supply. These sites and their project capacity include:
Table 1: List of Sites and their project capacity.
|Site||Project capacity (MW)|
However, challenges exist in the investment and financing for developing solar power generation in Cameroon, these challenges include: investment scale, single financing structure, violent investment fluctuation, and financing gap; these are also the plain causes of slowing solar power generation in Cameroon. While the lack of consciousness about attracting international investment, the ambiguity of the application process for alternative power generation projects, the dearth of specific measures to encourage PV power generation, and the backward national planning of PV power generation are the internal reasons delaying Cameroon’s solar power generation.
The construction of solar power plants alone will not be enough for the effective implementation of solar energy program; empowerment of solar entrepreneurs to reinforce the supply chain for PV lighting products throughout the country, and sensitization campaigns to enhance the knowledge on impacts of better lighting solutions could play a major role in this implementation program.
Kidmo DK, Deli K, Bogno B. Status of renewable energy in Cameroon. Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability. 2021;6:2.
Challenges of investment and financing for developing photovoltaic power generation in Cameroon, and the countermeasures
Author : Yvan Ngassa