One of the irking problems of constant electricity supply in Cameroon, of late, has been transporting the energy from where it is produced to industries and households for consumption. Stakeholders blame it on obsolete electricity poles, overloaded transformers and saturated network which require gigantic investments to stand growing challenges. According to the General Manager of ENEO, Joel Nana Kontchou, existing transformers are already saturated and sometimes stretched beyond limit. “Generally, manufacturers of the transformers advice that they be used at 80 per cent but ours here are sometimes used at 90-95 per cent and we do not usually have sufficient reserves,” he said. The excessive use of the transformers precipitates their degradation with reports of burnt transformers becoming recurrent. “This year alone, we have witnessed a 25 per cent reduction in the number of transformers owing to the destruction. This represents a loss of about 150 transformers,” the ENEO GM added.
This frequent blowing of transformers seriously stalls energy supply to households and industries. Electricity poles are also another source of worry, mostly the wooden type. They do not only fall and interrupt electricity supply but equally take away human life. ENEO, going by the General Manager, has already replaced about 50,000 of such dangerous poles. This notwithstanding, the country’s electricity sector still has so many wooden low tension poles susceptible to crumbling. Recent information from ENEO indicated that over 500,000 wooden poles have to be replaced. The outfit, sources say, is carrying out the replacement at a speed of 40,000 poles or more a year. This means that at this pace, the pressing problem can at best get a definite solution in not less than twelve and a half years. Joel Nana Kontchou said ENEO has an investment programme of FCFA 447 billion in ten years with 50 per cent of it to be directed to revamping the energy transmission lines like poles, transformers and extending the network.
Even if the poles were to be replaced at short notice, skeptics still doubt the quality used today to replace what has worn out. Old treated poles had a lifespan of 20 years but what is being used today appears not to be going through the same hitherto treatment procedure and may not stand the test of time. This raises more fears than hopes given that in the over 12 years that the replacement will span, other poles would have outlived their usefulness and other problems might have resurfaced. “What we need to do is to put in place an autonomous network which must be modernised to be able to evacuate electricity that will be produced from the new plants whose constructions are on course,” Mr Kontchou noted.