November 25, 2011
Let There be Light
About 120,000 people living in three of Cameroon's Regions are expected to come out of darkness by 2012. It was certainly with a big sigh of relief that the population of the said areas received the news of the official launching in Obala, Lekie Division, of the project to electrify33 villages in the Centre, North, North West and South Regions. The project is the brain children of the FCFA 5.2 billion-grant from the Islamic Development Bank; furnished through an agreement that was signed in 2007.
The project according to the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Michael Ngako Tomdio, will install electricity in the said localities and connect to the AES-SONEL electricity grid. The idea to integrate the rural electrification into the mainstream of AES electricity system is to ensure a steady supply and to allow the whole system in the hands of professionals. The number of villages to benefit from the project may sound relatively small taking into consideration that only 18 percent of the country's village communities are actually supplied with electricity. But as it is often said, every long journey begins with the first step.
From a specific perspective, light will soon shine in houses. But from another angle, the installation of energy will provide more than just light. The socio-economic life of the villages will largely be transformed. Energy supply will surely accelerate economic activities through the oiling of triggers of economic growth. We are talking here of enhancing telecommunication appliances, facilitating transformation of agricultural products and providing enabling conditions for preserving food crops.
Energy supply in the 33 villages takes into consideration the impoverished population and the undeveloped nature of the areas concerned. The project is conceived having in mind that electricity supply irrespective of how small it is, can free large amounts of human time and labour. It equally considers the fact that people in the rural areas carry water and fuel by hand and have limited food storage facilities. As if that were not all, their activities are limited to daylight hours. In effect, adding electric-powered wells for clean water can prevent many water-borne diseases such as dysentery, by reducing or eliminating direct contact between hands and the water supply. Refrigerators increase the time that food can be stored, potentially reducing hunger, while evening lighting can lengthen a community's daylight hours.
While jubilating in anticipation for 2012, ensuring the regular flow of the electric energy remains primordial. In fact, it would be better not to have electricity and know that there is no light than to be supplied with energy that will be constantly absent. There is high risk in having light characterized by frequent cuts and subsequent destruction of appliances than not having it at all. Even though it takes much to invest in electricity, we are talking here of the rural population that is poor and might not have enough to pay for the electricity. This is quite evident in some privileged villages where many homes remain in darkness in spite of the presence of electricity. This therefore calls for a significant reduction in connection cost and perhaps instituting of low rates per kilowatt.
Article source Cameroon Tribune
Posted on The Cameroon News under Cameroon General News