Stepping up connections outside urban centres in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa
Targeted measures are necessary to explore the energy generation potential of Central Africa and enhance access to secure and affordable energy for the poor in peri-urban areas. A European Commission-funded project is underway to make this happen, and will specifically create 56,000 new electricity connections, enabling 280,000 people to benefit
Peri-urban areas in Central Africa often suffer from a lack of electricity connections and face problems such as illegal connections, low rates of payment and difficulties of access.
To turn this situation around, a project was launched to improve access to electricity in peri-urban areas in the Member States of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) by extending the grid. Beneficiary countries include Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
The European Commission is supporting the project with a grant provided through the ACP-EU Energy Facility. It has mobilised a total of €10 million for a total project cost of €20 million, allocated by the facility for the 2008-2011 period.
Project launch ceremony (Cameroon) - speech by EU ambassador Raul Mateus Paula (FR)
Improving living conditions
The project will create 56,000 new connections, thereby enabling 280,000 people to benefit from the initiative. A special focus has been placed on households, handicraft producers, traders and social and public infrastructure in the area in order to maximise the opportunities that the new connections provide for working, healthcare, learning and running a business.
The project is thereby making a vital contribution to the European Commission's priority goal of achieving sustainable energy access for all.
In addition to the new connections, the project will develop innovative solutions for connecting people in peri-urban areas. To sustain the results of these measures, regional integration planning and management techniques will receive special attention.
Efforts paying off
Since the start of the project, a lot has been achieved already. Networks for 5,500 potential connections have been built and 1,800 connections have been put in place in pilot areas. Utilities and ministers of CEMAC countries are working together in the framework of the project, creating fruitful exchanges on concrete means for developing cost-effective solutions. Thanks to this collaboration, the countries adopted a regional plan identifying priority interconnections and access zones. This regional integration will contribute to making more efficient use of regional energy resources, enhancing security of access and lowering the cost of energy.
Bringing the cost of connections down to €60, the project allowed most inhabitants of the region to benefit from a connection.
"The project is of crucial importance: with it, the European Union intends to contribute to the fight against poverty, and access to electricity is a very important aspect of this process."
"The project contributes to the initiatives taken by the public authorities to improve people's living conditions, namely in those rapidly expanding low-income areas surrounding our urban centres."