On June 2, Joule Africa announced a $200 million investment plan to develop solar power in Cameroon.
This announcement comes on the heels of another successful agreement between Joule and the Cameroonian government: the building of a hydroelectric plant on the Katsina Ala river. This project alone is expected to raise the country’s capacity to generate power by 40 percent, an increase of 450 megawatts.
Cameroon has the second largest hydroelectric potential in Africa. While working to harness more of this potential, the government of Cameroon is looking toward complimentary sources of energy. Predicting dry spells and rain shortages during hot summer months, they have turned to solar power.
The new deal with Joule Africa, set to supply an additional 100 megawatts of power, marks a confidence in the nation’s growth that is sorely needed. For the time being, there is little information on the accessibility of electricity in Cameroon, but some reports estimate that less than 20 percent of the population has a reliable power source.
It is hoped that higher outputs of energy, in tandem with the building of energy grids and roads, will reach a greater number of Cameroonians, though for many, it is first and foremost a development strategy upon which hinges economic growth. President Paul Biya has expressed his desire for Cameroon to achieve emerging market status by 2035. One of the avenues to this end goal is the improvement of energy infrastructure, and indeed, Cameroon’s energy needs are expected to triple by 2020.
Joule Africa is now working with a partner-engineering firm, Bethel Industrievertretung, and the government to determine five sites suitable for solar power facilities in Cameroon. The project will increase Cameroon’s capacity to generate energy by 15 percent. It will be constructed in two phases; the first stage being completed in 2015, and the second by 2017.
– Olivia Kostreva