Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

21 July 2014

Cameroon: Frequent Outages - Bui, Donga-Mantung Subscribers Count the Cost

Local AES SONEL officials say the situation, which is beyond their control, is also costing the corporation FCFA millions every hour in lost revenue.

For some time now, outages have become the order of the day in Bui and Donga-Mantung Divisions of the North West Region, resulting in a slowdown in business activities as well as causing huge damage to equipment.

Impact On Business

Cameroon Tribune investigations in the Bui Divisional headquarters, Kumbo, found that among the most affected businesses are super markets, carpentry workshops, electronic repair shops, business centres, money transfer agencies, barbers, owners of deep freezers and fish stores. According to the proprietor of a carpenter's workshop in Tobin, Kumbo, his sand paper filing equipment has been destroyed beyond repairs due to the last electrical power failure that caught the machine in full operation.

Shiyka Patrick, who owns a super market in Mbveh Market, Kumbo, said frequent electrical failure causes huge financial and material losses to him as articles like yoghourt, cheese, butter and apples easily get bad without refrigeration. Besides, the electrical alarm installed to detect the presence of thieves in the shop goes off when there is power failure and thieves can use the opportunity to steal. He estimated his lost revenue at FCFA 1.5 million if power goes off three times a week.

Another business magnate, Banla Roland, added that when lights go off, counterfeiters take advantage to buy, knowing that their fake bank notes will not be easily detected. Moreover, vehicles, which break down, take days to be repaired. In the event of power failure, Banla uses a generator that consumes 10 litres of fuel a day, costing FCFA 6,000.

He added that his financial losses in a week go up to more than FCFA 100,000, while the returns in his shop drop by 5 per cent. The Divisional Delegate for Basic Education for Bui, Angwafor Clement Mankefo, said power failure brings work to a standstill in his office. He added that after outages, some office machines break down, requiring repairs.

AES SONEL Efforts

The Chief of Centre, AES SONEL, Kumbo, Ndjaki Tombog and the Chief of Network for AES SONEL Bui and Donga-Mantung Divisions, Babi Mundah Mananess, explained that simple network disruptions like a tree falling on transmission line are usually attended to quickly at their level. But if it is a problem with energy production, say at Sonloulou, Edea, Kribi, Bamenda and elsewhere, there is nothing they can do at their level. They however pointed out that management often informs them of scheduled preventive maintenance works, and they in turn inform the public.

Consumer Complaints

Concerning complaints about losses resulting from power failure, the SONEL officials said it was well spelt out in subscription contracts that customers with sensitive activities should make provision for standby generators. Babi Mundah Mananess however promised that SONEL's communication team will soon get down to the local level to advise consumers how to handle their energy challenges.

Lost Revenue

According to Babi Mundah Mananess, SONEL also loses FCFA 4.5 million to low consumers in the area when lights go off for an hour. On the other hand, FCFA 6.9 million FCFA 8.4 million is lost to medium and high electricity consumers respectively when outages last an hour.

The First Assistant Senior Divisional Officer for Bui, Dr. Mohamadou, who is also Chairman of the Follow-up Committee of the Supply of Water and Electricity in Bui, disclosed that from April 27, 2014 to May 5, 2014, the division suffered electricity cuts for 48hours, 50 minutes. From July 1, 2014 to July 7, 2014, outages lasted 32 hours, two minutes, and from the July 7-14, 2014, it suffered electricity cuts for 25 hours, 34 minutes.

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