Chofor Che: Cameroon’s Precarious Water and Electricity Quagmire

On the 3rd of December 2015, Nfor wrote an article in Cameroon Tribune concerning a promising boost to Cameroon’s water and electricity supply. According to this article, the country’s draft budget of FCFA 214 billion was defended at the Finance and Budget Committee of the National Assembly on December 1, 2015. 208 FCFA billion will be considered as the Public Investment Budget while 5.5 FCFA billion as operational budget. According to the 2016 draft budget, 214.1 billion FCFA is allocated to the Ministry of Water and Energy. This draft budget was presented by Basile Atangana Kouna, the Minister of Water and Energy, before the Committee on Finance and Budget of the National Assembly. Nfor adds in her article that government is bent on improving the electricity and water supply in the country. According to the Minister of Water and Energy, this will be achievable as work advances on the Lom Pangar, the Memve’éle and Mekin hydroelectric dams. Other projects include the construction of 150 drinking water supply systems in 150 secondary centres and villages. The United States of America also intends to assist the government of Cameroon to construct 160 drinking water supply points in some rural areas. There remain serious concerns as to whether an increase in the budget of the Ministry of Water and Energy will make the water and electricity sectors better.

Great thinkers like Frédéric Bastiat opine that in the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them. For many years now the government of Cameroon has monopolized the water and electricity sector and has continued to allocate colossal amounts to the Ministry of Water and Energy but the situation remains wanting. Several neighborhoods in the political Capital, Yaoundé remain without water. This is the same scenario with the economic capital, Douala, not to mention rural parts of the country. Part of the problem is that the personnel are not well trained. Apart from that the water and electricity infrastructure remains seriously dilapidated.

Another great economist Milton Friedman states that “Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government– in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.” Transposing this view to what is obtained in Africa and Cameroon in particular we witness a situation whereby governments have monopolised the water and electricity sector and not given much room for the private sector to come aboard. Due to such monopoly Cameroonians continue to suffer from the chronic water and electricity crisis. The water and electricity bills remain high despite the fact that many Cameroonians go without water and electricity. It does not suffice for the government of Cameroon to continue to allocate colossal amounts of money to the Ministry of Water and Energy. There is need for a holistic approach so as to get a sustainable solution to the water and electricity crisis. Importance must be given to more private public partnerships in the water and electricity sector. The government of Cameroon cannot continue to fully control the water and energy sector. There is also need for the personnel to be well trained to as to furnish better services to clients. Another issue is that the water and electricity infrastructure needs to be up to date. The government of Cameroon can bring on board both local and foreign investors to help out with rehabilitating dilapidated electricity and water installations. If the government considers these options then we may obtain a scenario whereby more Cameroonians have access to water and electricity.

Chofor Che is co founder and Chair of research at the Central African Center for Libertarian Thought and Action. He is an integral part of the Africanliberty’s Voice of Liberty initiative. He is an analyst at He also blogs at