Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

27 May 2014

Cameroon: Commentary - Scrupulous Respect of Engagements

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Electric energy supply constitutes one, if not, the most important priority in the drive towards emergence come the year 2035.

With an annual national demand situated at between six and seven per cent which incidentally, is not marched by increase in supply, there is every reason to consider electric supply as one of the country's major issues at stake. The arrival of the British firm, Actis, to take over shares owned by AES SONEL in electricity supply and its subsidiaries; Kribi Power Development Company (KPDC) and Dibamba Power Development Company (DPDC) is to say the least timely.

Whereas the takeover marks the end of a journey in the whole gamut of negotiations, it above all opens an entirely new phase in the struggle to ensure improved and regular electricity supply to the Cameroonian population. For this reason, it is absolutely important for the new company to understand that the expectations of Cameroonians are extremely high.

The population, which happens to find itself in a disadvantaged position, is really tired of the gimmicks that have so far surrounded electricity supply in Cameroon. In spite of the rekindled hopes epitomised by the change of management within the framework of privatisation wherein the State gave out a significant share of its shares to companies tipped as well experienced in the field, the population did not at one time witness any marked difference.

Instead, things went down the drain; unannounced cuts here and there, load shedding, connection difficulties and high bills, among others. This is where the challenge is for any company taking over electricity management in Cameroon.

From every indication, these factors appear to have been seriously taken into consideration in the various agreements signed between the government and the British company. As underscored by the Minister of Water Resources and Energy, Actis has as commitment to extend the distribution network, control electricity consumption by the administration, reduce technical and commercial losses, respect the rhythm of investment, professionalise the management of the company, improve customer service and undertake professional training.

The government of Cameroon, according to the Water Resources and Energy boss, shall be "very vigilant" on the evolution of each of these indicators. He equally knows that the population will even be more vigilant and exigent.

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