Reforms of the Cameroonian Electricity Sector

The institutional evolution of the Cameroonian electricity sector can be illustrated by Figure 1 below.

The institutional evolution of the Cameroonian electricity sector

The Cameroonian electricity sector has undergone many changes. It went from a regional monopoly exercised by three operators (POWERCAM, ENELCAM, and Electricité Du Cameroun (EDC)) to a national monopoly with vertical integration.

At the end of the 1990s, the electricity sector in Cameroon was one of the prime targets of the all-round restructuring of entire sectors of the national economy, suggested and decided by international donors and implemented locally. . It had been advised to transform public electricity companies into legally separate entities. The objective was to reduce the number of problems faced by utilities in developing countries and to guide them towards cost recovery for pricing and improvements in metering, billing and collection. At the same time, the adoption of the required energy legislation was to provide a legal mandate for the restructuring, as well as the legal framework for private participation in the sector. Arrangements have also been made for an independent regulator to establish efficiency, cost considerations, transparency and equity in the management of the sector, encourage appropriate investment and protect consumers.

The reform that took place in 1998 (Law N ° 98/022 of 24 December 1998) allowed the opening of the production segment to competition. Overall, its objectives were:
– to disengage the State in the commercial service of electricity;
– reduce the financial burden of the sector on the state budget;
– to improve the contribution of the electricity sector to the economy and to the social development of the country.

More specifically, she was to allow:
– increase investment in the electricity sector;
– to improve the quality of service and the service;
– improve efficiency in the production, transmission and distribution of electrical energy;
– to supply energy at competitive prices to industry and households;
– confirm the opening of the sector to competition;
– to encourage the private sector to participate in the development of the electricity sector.
Through this law of 1998, a Regulator of the electricity sector was created, in particular the Regulatory Agency of the Electricity Sector (ARSEL) to ensure the regulation, the control and the follow-up of the activities of the operators and the operators in the electricity sector. Before this reform, electricity tariffs were published by the Ministry of Finance and Economy under the proposal of the National Electricity Company (SONEL).

From the public monopoly held by the late SONEL, the State has conceded all activities related to this sector to a single private operator, the American group AES Corporation. Thus, through four concession contracts signed on July 18, 2001, the activities of production, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity were entrusted to the operator AES-SONEL.

The publication of the law n ° 2011/022 of 14 December 2011 regulating the electricity sector has allowed the creation of a transmission system operator removing this segment from the public service concessionaire which managed in an integrated way (production, transport, distribution and supply). The goal is to attract more private investors into the production segment.