Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Light It Up
Memve’ele, Lom Pangar, Mekin the energy backbone With a hydropower potential second only to the DRC in Africa, Cameroon’s energy like almost everything else in the country is an impressive but hugely untapped resource. Only 14 percent of rural people in the country the World Bank says have access to energy. Power is costly and outages are a common occurrence in its towns and cities. It’s a cliché in Cameroon people glued to football games on television in homes and pubs applaud whenever electricity returns after a blackout. In fact, the national electricity grid runs principally from Douala to Yaounde and from Yaounde to Bafoussam, leaving most other areas in the dark or with diesel-generated electricity. Until now, the electricity that lights up parts of Cameroon has been supplied mainly by two hydroelectric stations on the Sanaga River, nearly 60% of it is gulped up by the aluminium smelter at Edea. In the 1980s, hydroelectric capacity was expanded by an additional complex on the Sanaga River (Song-Loulou) and a 72 MW generator (built with Chinese aid) on the Benoue River. Cameroon's power capacity was 810 MW in 2002, for which output for that year was 3.249 TWh, of which about 90% was from hydropower and the remainder from fossil fuels. Consumption amounted to 3.022 TWh in 2002.