*Energy Ministers from the region adopted the 2014-2030 White Paper
20 October 2014, Yaounde – Ten member countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) now have a common plan for developing projects that can ensure universal access to modern energy by 2030. Energy Ministers from the region endorsed the document, christened, “ECCAS & CEMAC White Paper: Regional policy for universal access to modern energy services and economic and social development,” in Yaounde on Saturday October 18, during their meeting.
Drawn up with technical and financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the white paper explores hidden potentials in the region and maps out ways through which they could be transformed into opportunities to journey the region out of darkness. The White Paper, conceivers said, is based on the common vision shared by ECCAS and CEMAC to ensure universal access to modern energy services for the population by 2030, in view of the emergence of Central Africa and a sustainable human development.
It is grounded on three guiding principles: Good regional, national and local governance, energy security and development of renewable energy and the promotion of hydropower potentials as well as inclusive development and poverty reduction. Besides pursuing already engaged projects, member countries will need to develop others that can integrate the region.
The strategy underlines the importance of modernising and developing refining infrastructures through which households and other economic actors notably small and medium-size enterprises could have access to clean and modern fuel. This is in the form of liquid petroleum gas (butane gas) alongside modern biomass beneficial in rural areas. It emerged from the Minister’s meeting that the implementation of the White Paper, notably with regards to accessing modern energy services, will involve investments amounting to about 14.8 billion dollars (about FCFA 7,609,113,007,226,000) to attain an electrification rate of 54 per cent by 2030. Records show that barely 15 per cent of the population currently access clean energy.
Speaking during the opening as well as closing ceremonies, Cameroon’s Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Basile Atangana Kouna, who is also President of the regional Ministers Conference, saluted the initiative, pleading with member countries to work in synergy and develop better strategies not only to source for financing, but also for an implementation of the plan. Meanwhile, the Resident Coordinator of the UN Systems in Cameroon, Najat Rochdi, pledged her institution’s continual support, especially in capacity building of skilled human resources at all levels of the energy value chain, so that the strategy is implemented to attain desired objectives. The White Paper will be presented to Heads of State of the region for approval.
*Godlove Bainkong – Cameroun Tribune