Switching On Energy Self-Sufficiency To Power Industrialisation

Cameroon is investing in clean energy to drastically reduce its reliance upon imported fuels.

A reliable, sustainable and affordable supply of energy is vital for the continued proper functioning of daily life and business activity in any country. Well aware of this fact, the Cameroonian government placed universal access to energy at the very top of its priorities, a non-negotiable requirement to fulfil its development vision.

In the past two years, the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy launched strong investments to improve the country’s electrification rate, a necessary step in Cameroon’s path towards further industrialisation. The commissioning of the Lom Pangar Dam has regularised the flow of the river Sanaga, leading to the production of an additional 170 MW in the existing downstream plants. The increased production resolved the recurring energy crisis in the Southern Interconnected Grid.

Furthermore, the government approved the construction of a new hydropower site in Nachtigal, on the river Sanaga. The new dam will supply the country with even more reliable and affordable clean energy: once operational, the new dam will allow the government to save US$100 million per year in generation costs. “This year’s objective, like every other, is to continue efforts in reducing the demand-supply gap and improving the quality of service in the electricity business,” said Hon. Gaston Eloundou Essomba, Minister of Water Resources and Energy.

Another potentially formidable source of energy for Cameroonian citizens and businesses, however, lies right beneath the country’s surface: the government, eager to explore the potential of natural gas, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with neighbouring Equatorial Guinea, recognising that gas fields Yolanda (off the shores of Equatorial Guinea) and Yoyo (offshore Cameroon) belong to a contiguous reservoir to be jointly developed in collaboration with global player Noble Energy, that already operated the two separate gas fields. With this new and promising operation, Cameroon aims to cut its gas imports and further establish its role in the LNG sector: “The Hilli offshore vessel that is currently producing LNG with gas from Cameroon’s SNH is the second actively working floating LNG project in the world and the first in Africa,” explains John Z. Tomich, Vice-President and Country Manager for Noble Energy.

The Kribi floating gas liquefaction unit and public refinery Sonara now bring a joint average yearly production of 47,000 tonnes of LPG for domestic consumption, amounting to 50% of the total national demand: this astounding result enabled Cameroon to cut its import of gas down from 80% to 50%. Moreover, the Kribi floating plant allowed Cameroon to export an incredible quantity of LNG to the Asian market: “We monetised previously dormant resources through the innovative Floating LNG,” says Adolphe Moudiki, Director General of SNH (National Hydrocarbons Corporation).

The wonders hidden in the subsoil off the shores of Cameroon, however, do not end here. A 2018 appraisal campaign confirmed the presence of hydrocarbon on the Etinde offshore gas field, prompting operator New Age to put together a development plan, with the aim of starting production within the next two years. The Etinde project could be a real game changer for Cameroon, potentially allowing the country to further reduce its dependence on imported gas and fuel and improve supply for rural communities, which are more likely to suffer from power outages.

According to Country & Asset Manager Bruno de Vinck, Cameroon has quickly become New Age’s main focus, and the company plans to support governmental policies that aim to increase MPG usage for local market consumption, especially in rural communities: “Etinde is a real opportunity for Cameroon,” says de Vinck. “The production of liquids will be quite significant and will allow us to help the local economy.”

Concerning other renewable sources of energy, Cameroon has an incredible potential for hydro, solar, geothermal, biomass and wind energy. In 2015, Cameroon signed a memorandum of understanding with IPP Greenquest Solar Corporation to develop a 500 MW solar photovoltaic installation in the northern region of the country, and more opportunities are being evaluated.

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