The Republic of Cameroon has an area of 475,000km2 and a population of 13.5M. Average annual precipitation is 2131mm. The total mean annual precipitation volume is approximately 1012km3, with total run-off of 253.3km3.

The Ministry of Mines, Water & Energy (MINMEE) is responsible for water resources. There are regional subsidiaries for the country’s ten provinces.

There are nine large dams in operation.

Hydro power development

The gross theoretical hydro potential of Cameroon is 294TWh/yr (based on a 1983 survey). Of this, 115TWh/yr is considered technically feasible, and 103TWh/yr economically feasible. Only about 5.5% of the technically feasible capacity has been developed so far.

Of the country’s total installed capacity of 802MW, 721MW of capacity is from hydro power plants as follows:

• Song Loulou – 384MW with eight units.

• Edéa – 265MW with 14 units.

• Lagdo – 72MW with four units.

The average annual generation from hydro stations is 3200GWh/yr.

Per capita power consumption is 288KWh/yr.

Hydro power plants produce about 98% of electricity, with thermal plants supplying the balance.

No hydro power schemes are currently under construction but there are plans for a number of projects, which could have a total capacity of around 600MW:

• Lom Pangar on the Lom river (storage capacity of 7km3, with an area of 610km2 covered). This major reservoir would provide an increase of flood discharge for the equipment installed at the Song loulou and Edéa hydro plants.

• Bini a Warak, on the Vina North river (75MW).

• Nachtigal on the Sanaga river (267MW).

• Memve Ele on the Ntem river (202MW).

• Kadey (15MW) on the Kadey river.

Construction of the new Lom Pangar dam and reservoir, with a capacity of 7.5km3, would allow for the use of the Song loulou and Edéa hydro plants providing an increase in guaranteed power during low water periods of 216MW for the south Cameroon grid. The 56MW hydro plant at the toe of the Lom Pangar dam would supply electricity to the isolated province of East Cameroon.

The 15MW Kadey project is an alternative option for the supply of power to the East province.

The Bini a Warak hydro project in Adamaoua Province, which is one of three provinces served by the north interconnected grid, is also under consideration.

It is considered that the uprating and refurbishment of existing hydro plants could play a substantial role in strengthening the national power system. In particular, it has been considered necessary to increase the discharge for the equipment installed at the Song loulou and Edéa hydro plants.

Song loulou, 100km inland of Douala on the Sanaga river, produces most of the power for Sonel’s grid. Its eight units were originally commissioned between 1980 and 1988.

The first unit at Songloulou was repaired successfully between 1995 and 1998, financed by SONEL. A grant of about US$5.3M was then extended by the Swiss government for rehabilitation of the other seven units. The rehabilitation contract was awarded to va-tech: the consultant is Stucky Consulting Engineers of Switzerland. The work began during 1999, and is expected to continue until 2003.

The Edéa plants also need to be rehabilitated soon. In addition to this, one of the units at the Lagdo plant often fails and is in need of repair.