CDC has committed up to US$20m into Cameroon’s national electricity utility company, Société Nationale d’Electricité (SONEL), and in two independent power plants, Kribi and Dibamba. The investments have been made as part of the overall $202m transaction led by Actis, one of Africa’s most experienced investors in the power sector which recently agreed to buy the assets from The AES Corporation.
SONEL is an integrated utility with power generation, transmission and distribution assets that include 732 megawatts (MW) of hydropower and 201MW of thermal power generation. It operates the sole transmission and distribution network in Cameroon with 2,200km of high voltage lines and 31,000km of medium and low voltage lines. It currently supplies electricity to over 800,000 customer connections throughout the country. Kribi and Dibamba together have generating capacity of 302MW.
With a GDP per capita of $2,300, Cameroon ranks 186 out of 229 countries in the world. Around 40% of the population is below the poverty line. It has a total electrification rate of around 50%, but this falls to less than 10% in rural areas, according to a report from the African Development Bank, where 90% of the population still uses traditional solid fuels such as fuel wood and charcoal.
“Investing in power in Africa is a priority for CDC. Our investment will help support economic growth and job creation by helping meet Cameroon’s demand for electricity, which has grown at 6% a year since 2001. As well as reducing losses due to inefficiency in the SONEL network, Actis and CDC will support the business as it continues to add over 60,000 new customer connections per year.”