By Yerima Kini Nsom
A Norwegian company known as SunErgy has embarked on a project to provide electricity to some 350,000 people in 92 villages in Mbonge Sub Division of the Southwest Region.
The Managing Director of the company, Stein Skjorshammer, made the revelation during an audience with the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, at the Star Building in Yaounde recently.
Going by the official, SunErgy is a company in the business of providing off-grid communities in emerging markets with solar power electricity. It is currently active in West Africa, building and operating solar power plants. The outfit’s onslaught to bring electricity to some 92 villages that are still groping in the dark is the main substance of a protocol agreement it signed with the Cameroon Government in May 2012.
While lauding SunErgy officials for the initiative, the Prime Minister said it was in tandem with President Biya’s 2035 vision, tailored to let Cameroon triumph over underdevelopment and stand tall as an emerging country.
‘’We are not only making electricity available but also affordable to rural communities” Prof. Skjorshammer told The Post. In addition to electricity, he stated that, SunErgy also offers cable television and internet, thereby giving the people access to the rest of the world. It is estimated that more than 121,000 families in the 92 villages will have access to electricity, cable television and Internet by the time SunErgy goes the whole gamut of the project.
Officials say SunErgy Cameroon will generate approximately 10,000 jobs, while 500 new jobs will be created by the company’s subcontractors. In addition, the company plans to hire 500 employees themselves. Many other advantages, experts indicate, will trickle down to the local communities when the company shoulders its social corporate responsibility. The villages will benefit from the construction of schools, health centres, roads and other social amenities.
Within the context of the SunErgy project, Bokosso village in Mbonge was the first to have a solar power plant installed. It was followed by Mundango, Boviongoand Mueli villages. According to some inhabitants of Bokosso village, light conquered darkness in their homes when SunErgy installed electricityin the area in August last year in a bid to test their equipment.
Observers hold that SunErgy’s contract to produce electricity and sell it to the local people at cheaper rates, is a pro-poor endeavour that will change lives in the villages.
Cameroon’s rural world still gropes in the dark. According to official statistics, only 1,000 out of the 11,000 villages in Cameroon have access to electricity. The situation is a byword of a macro picture in Sub Saharan Africa where only 32 percent of the population has access to electricity.
Going by SunErgy officials, five villages where electricity will be fully installed by next month are; Bokosso, Mueli, Bomana, Koto I, Koto II and Efolofo. The Managing Director of SunErgy Cameroon, Mike Fohba, says the company will install electricity in some 25 villages in 2016
“The task ahead is huge. However, we are up to it,” he remarked.
The terms of the official agreement the company signed with the Cameroon Government on May 28, 2014, stipulate that SunErgy will produce, transport and sell electricity to 92 villages in the Southwest Region.
“We had a more general agreement with the Republic of Cameroon through the Ministry of Water Resources and Energy to provide electricity to 92 villages in the Region,” SunErgy Managing Director stated. He said the May 28, 2014 agreement is more specific because it describes, in detail, the duties, rights and privileges of all parties involved through the Electricity Sector Regulatory Agency, ARSEL.
“We truly appreciate the cooperation with the Government of Cameroon, at least, as expressed by the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang and the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Basile Atangana Kouna,” Dr Skjorshammer remarked.
The SunErgy boss told The Post that, besides providing electricity, the company is participating in entrepreneurship, farming and community development in villages where the company is active.